Bus Roadeos: More than just fun and games

Posted on March 23, 2012 by Heather Redfern - Also by this author

 One of the highlights of the year for Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) bus operators and mechanics is SEPTA’s annual Bus Roadeo, where employees showcase their driving, safety and maintenance skills in front of family, friends and colleagues in a festive atmosphere. But the Roadeo offers more than just bragging rights and accolades for participants (although those are a nice bonus). The skills operators and mechanics practice leading up to and perform on the day of the event are important and unique training opportunities that can enhance the participants’ everyday job performances.

Qualifying operators compete on an 11-obstacle driving course (which must be completed in seven seconds) that measures safety and smoothness of operation. They are also judged and scored on personal appearance and vehicle pre-trip inspection (part of their daily responsibilities). Mechanics compete as teams of three in events such as two engine/transmission modules, HVAC module, air brakes, bus inspection, doors, multiplex electrical system and written testing. 

“All of the transportation and maintenance events focus on real, everyday items or tasks that transit professionals deal with while doing their jobs,” said Mark Catenacci, senior project designer, SEPTA. “Although the Roadeo is a one day event, the skills honed and the knowledge gleaned carry over the remaining 365 days of the year, which makes the benefits of a Roadeo immeasurable.” Catenacci added that, because many of the competitors, via their Roadeo experience, promote into transportation management positions, “the Roadeo is also a great career launch pad.”

Winners of the local events (“the playoffs” as Catenacci calls them) can compete in the International Bus Roadeo (IBR). Unfortunately holding a local Roadeo and participating in the IBR is becoming a luxury for some transportation organizations. “Public Transit operators have faced unprecedented funding challenges over the past few years resulting in a number of critical budget adjustments,” said Michael Hennessy, IBR chair and one of the original committee members that helped develop and implement the first APTA International Maintenance Roadeo. “Travel restrictions including Roadeo and conference attendance are a part of some transit agencies’ cutbacks.”

Hennessy urges organizations that have or are considering not participating in Roadeos to revisit the topic before striking it from the ledger, as the benefits far exceed the monetary expense.

“Whereas the Roadeo may look like a line item on a budget sheet, it directly impacts the core of the organization,” he said. “The face of a transit agency is often the bus operator and mechanics that provide the look and feel of the service. As ambassadors for the transit system their superior performance is critical to the customers’ experience and the community’s support of the transit system.”

Hennessy, who thinks of the IBR as the Oscars or Grammys of the transportation world, added, “The IBR strives to promote a standard of excellence by addressing the industry's top operating issues and concerns with advanced training, competitive challenges and enhanced skill development. The IBR produces a pool of ‘Best of the Best’ operators and mechanics that benefit local transit systems, communities and the transit industry at large.”

While the mood of the competition is almost always friendly and light, the Roadeos are far from “just fun and games.” Participation allows operators and mechanics to challenge themselves personally and professionally, while improving their organizations, too.

In case you missed it...

Read our METRO blog, "This Sunday, thank your bus driver" here.

View comments or post a comment on this story. (6 Comments)

More Transit Dispatches Blog Posts

January 14, 2020

Understanding how customers feel about paratransit will help us fix it

Virtually every transit agency has a few angry customers, and I used to be one. I depended on transit and when it failed, it was maddening.

January 14, 2020

A transit employer’s duty to bargain over automation: Potential topics

Decisions on subcontracting, partial shutdown, layoffs, reassignment, and changes to the bargaining unit provide guidance.

January 6, 2020

What's the forecast for public transit tech trends in 2020?

Is this the beginning of the end for design-build procurements, and will Mobility as a Service move away from city mega-apps?

January 2, 2020

Want to attract young talent to your city? Start thinking transit

Research suggests that when looking for a place to settle, the most important criteria for those aged 24 to 44 is easy access to transit.

December 23, 2019

Are airports in for a traffic jam this holiday? Not necessarily

If airports want to regulate rideshare, they need to offer alternative service that’s capable of competing with the likes of Uber and Lyft.

See More

Post a Comment

Post Comment

Comments (6)

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment

TruckingInfo.com

THE COMMERCIAL TRUCK INDUSTRY’S MOST IN-DEPTH INFORMATION SOURCE

Work Truck Magazine

The number 1 resource for vocational truck fleets

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

LCT Magazine

Global Resource For Limousine and Bus Transportation