The Regional Transportation District (RTD) of Denver took the top spot this year and was crowned the Grand Champion at the American Public Transportation Association's (APTA) 42nd Annual International Bus Roadeo. The Grand Champion Award recognizes the system with the highest combined bus operator and maintenance team score.

Oahu Transit of Honolulu took second place overall achievement honors, while the team from Calif.’s Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) won third place overall achievement honors. The event was held in conjunction with the APTA Bus and Paratransit Conference in Reno, Nev., this week.

"Congratulations to these individuals and systems which represent the best of our industry," said APTA Acting President and CEO Richard White. "This event defines who we are as an industry and what we do. It highlights how we excel at delivering safe, reliable transportation to the public every day. These bus operators and maintenance professionals provide access for people to earn a living, to connect with their community and contribute to the economy."

In the 40-foot bus competition, which is the ultimate test of a bus operator's driving skills, Kyle Jones, driving for Calif.’s Riverside Transit Agency, was named best driver in North America. He beat out 61 other competitors to win the first-place award. Taking second place in the 40-foot bus competition was Kevin Grady driving for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, with third place going to OCTA’s Darvy Traylor.  

In the 35-foot bus competition, Douglas Rego driving for Oahu Transit won first place and was crowned the best bus operator in North America in this category. He beat out 19 other competitors. Taking second place was Robert Wood driving for the Intercity Transit (Olympia, Wash.), while third place went to Arthur Murillo from Austin, Texas’ Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Thirty-eight teams competed in the Maintenance Competition, which tests mechanics' abilities to troubleshoot mechanical problems and fix them quickly. RTD won first place in the maintenance competition. The team from the Los Angeles County Transportation Authority earned a second place finish and the team from Oahu Transit received third place honors.

In addition to recognizing excellence among bus operators and mechanics, APTA also crowned Benito Zavalza of Omnitrans (San Bernardino, Calif.) as the first place winner of the Customer Service Challenge Awards. This competition judges professionalism, customer service and problem-solving skills of bus operators as they face real-life scenarios.

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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.