AVOCA — Move over cowboys — there’s a new rodeo in town.
The Pennsylvania Public Transit Association held it’s annual summer conference this weekend, which featured a bus ROADeo between various training programs and seminars.
Behind the second aviation hangar at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport in Avoca, about 40 transit drivers showed off their skills by navigating around an obstacle course. The event was hosted by the County of Lackawanna Transit System, and about 20 different public transportation authorities from across the state were in attendance.
The event was split into two categories: fixed route buses and paratransit vehicles. Glen Barber, who drives the for the Luzerne County Transportation Authority, was the first driver to attempt the course.
“It was tougher than I thought,” the 16-year veteran driver of the LCTA’s Bus Route 11 said of his first attempt. “But I thought I did very well.”
LCTA Executive Director Norm Gavlick said it’s been about 16 years since authority drivers competed in the ROADeo, but they’re aiming to get back into the swing of things.
“We’re reviving it this year,” he said.”We had such as great response — so many of our drivers wanted to participate, we had to do a drawing to see who would go.”
Gavlick said that drivers must meet a certain criteria before being allowed to compete in the event, which offers cash prizes to the top performers. For example, only drivers who have an accident-free record and no disciplinary actions within their transit agency may participate.
Three drivers form the LCTA competed Sunday, winding and weaving their buses through serpentine turns, completing speeding stops and making “passenger pick-ups” within an eight-minute timeline.
In between runs, public transit employees were able to intermingle with one another, taking selfies and recording the competition throughout the day. Gavlick said the LCTA is looking forward to participating in the association’s future events.
“Overall. I think our employees and drivers are happy to get back involved,” Gavlick said.