The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) of Washington, D.C., took the top spot this year and was crowned the Grand Champion at the American Public Transportation Association's (APTA) 43rd Annual International Bus Roadeo. A total of 87 operators and 43 maintenance teams participated in the Roadeo. The Grand Champion Award recognizes the system with the highest combined bus operator and maintenance team score.
The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) of Orange, Calif., team took second place overall achievement honors, while the team from Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District (AC Transit) of Oakland, Calif., won third place. The event was held in conjunction with the APTA Bus and Paratransit Conference in Tampa, Fla., this week.
"The Roadeo highlights how the incredible professionals in our industry strive to provide safe and reliable transportation to their riders every day. I congratulate the winners and all the participants who displayed excellent skills and precision," said APTA President/CEO Paul P. Skoutelas.
In the 40-foot bus competition, Kevin Grady, driving for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (San Francisco) was named best driver in North America in this category. He beat out 65 other competitors to win the first-place award. Taking second place in the 40-foot bus competition was Gabe Beliz driving for the Washington State Transit Association (Olympia, Wash.). Third place was claimed by Robert Miles driving on behalf of WMATA.
In the 35-foot bus competition, Jeremiah Gardner, driving for the Greater Lynchburg Transit Company (Lynchburg, Va.), won first place and was crowned the best bus operator in North America in this category. He beat out 20 other competitors. Taking second place was Robert Wood driving for Intercity Transit (Olympia, Wash.). Claiming third place in the competition was Oscar Zamora, driving for the Corpus Christi Regional Transportation Authority (Corpus Christi, Texas).
Forty-three teams competed in the Maintenance Competition, which tests mechanics' abilities to troubleshoot mechanical problems and fix them quickly. Foothill Transit (West Covina, Calif.) won first place. The team from the OCTA earned a second-place finish and the team from WMATA received third place honors.
In addition to recognizing excellence among bus operators and mechanics, APTA also awarded John Ybarra of Norwalk Transit System (Norwalk, Calif.) as the champion of the Customer Service Challenge Award. This competition judges professionalism, customer service skills, and problem-solving skills.
The International Bus Roadeo is comprised of bus operators and mechanics from public transit systems across North America who participate in separate competitions, which showcase their skills in safe driving and vehicle maintenance.
The Operator Competition includes events such as judgment stops, turning, and clearing obstacles. The Mechanic Competition requires skills in the identification of defects in engine, transmission, brake, and HVAC modules. The pre-trip inspection for operators and multiplex troubleshooting for mechanics are incorporated as scored events.