The SamTrans Bus Roadeo—a skills test that allows operators and maintenance workers to show off their talents and abilities in a series of friendly competitions—will kick off this Sunday.
The event will take place at the SamTrans North Base operating facility in South San Francisco, and will feature nearly 60 competitors. Friends and family are also welcome at the Roadeo, which is expected to draw about 500 people overall. This year’s Roadeo is particularly significant, as it coincides with the 40th anniversary of SamTrans.
Six separate categories of operators will compete in a bus-driving course, where participants will be required to perform a series of difficult and technically-challenging driving and parking maneuvers.
The different categories include SamTrans operators, maintenance workers, instructors, as well as contracted bus drivers. The SamTrans bus operators who meet eligibility requirements from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) will compete for a spot at the International Bus Roadeo competition scheduled for next May in Reno, Nevada.
In a new wrinkle, the 2016 SamTrans Roadeo will also include a competition for operators who didn’t meet the APTA eligibility requirements, as a way to allow more drivers to compete in the event. Additionally, a special driving category for some more novice operators will include SamTrans General Manager/CEO Jim Hartnett, Chief of Bus Operations David Olmeda, and board members Jeff Gee and Zoe Kersteen-Tucker.
In the maintenance competition, three 3-person teams will face off against each other in multi-test challenges that will feature a series of simulated vehicle problems and breakdowns. The respective squads will be tasked with diagnosing and repairing the issues in the timed contest. The winning maintenance team will also qualify for the International competition in Reno.
The SamTrans Bus Roadeo was temporarily suspended in 2009, due to the economic recession and the long, slow national recovery. With the economy showing increasing strength, SamTrans’ union and management collaborated to bring back the event last year.
SamTrans’ employees have an impressive history at the International level. In 1990, SamTrans operator Gary Johnson—competing against drivers from across America and Canada—captured the top prize at the International Roadeo in Houston. In the last three years that the SamTrans maintenance team competed at the international level, they garnered three top-10 finishes.
SamTrans declined to send the winners of last year’s Bus Roadeo to the International competition in Charlotte, due to North Carolina’s HB2 law.
Along with the bus driving and maintenance competitions, the August 28 event at North Base will include activities and entertainment for children, BBQ dishes prepared by SamTrans employees, raffle prizes and other family-friendly activities.
About SamTrans: SamTrans operates 76 routes throughout San Mateo County. Funded in part by a half-cent sales tax, the San Mateo County Transit District also provides administrative support for Caltrain and the San Mateo County Transportation Authority. SamTrans has provided bus service to San Mateo County customers since 1976.