Saturday, November 8, 2014

• 2014 RTA Roadeo

No, it isn't a misprint. 
It's a portmanteau of Road and Rodeo = Road•e•o... get it?

I had heard that this was going to be happening and that one of our city council members, also a member of the Board of Directors for RTA—Bridgette Moore, was going to be a participant, so I asked if I could tag along.

The day started at 6:30AM, with arrival at the Hemet RTA compound a little after 7:00AM. You'd never know it was November with the 90 degree temps. The first Operator Contestant (Driver for the uninitiated) started off at 8:15AM.

They went through an obstacle course that included tennis balls, sharp turns in both directions, backing up into a narrow pocket between cones—from both angles, finished up by going through two rows of barrels that narrows as you went. The drivers had 7 mins to complete the course with as few errors as possible (knocking cones over, or flattening tennis balls).

As luck would have it, our council member was the last driver slated to get behind the wheel. Perhaps seeing what the other drivers had done first was a help, because she really did well—didn't kill any tennis balls, and knocked over only a smattering of cones. [She did elect NOT to do any of the backing up drills, so he her kill ratio probably would have gone up had she done those.]

I took some video, but buses going slowly around cones doesn't make for the best viewing experience... so I sped up parts of it by about 1000%. The portions of the video that are of the bus, is a compilation of various drivers. The portion from inside the bus was when Bridgette Moore was driving. It was a fun ride, but I can tell that those breaks must have been a bear to get the feel of. At times it felt like I was getting tossed around by a big swell while body surfing. ☺

There was also a tour of the facilities. The compound used to be owned by one of the trash companies and is being readied for RTA (though it looked about 99% there already). Just some office shifting, and moving a call center, and a reception area are left for it to be completed.

I saw where the new driver training classrooms were, a call center, the locker rooms, where they wash and detail the buses. It was an impressive set up. Perhaps once they've got it all up and running they'll let me blog about them and their mission to Riverside County and Wildomar.

Click to enlarge the image.

So, other than watching the various contestants drive, and enjoy some coffee and donuts... later hamburgers and hot dogs, I wanted to know what the Roadeo 2014 was all about. I was pointed in the direction of Rosie Rozatti, operations manager, and she explained it this way.

I'm part of the Southern California Regional Roadeo Committee.

Today we had a competition to narrow down from all the really good drivers we have to one driver and an alternate to compete in international Roadeo competition, which will be in Fort Worth, Texas in May 1-5, 2015.

After today's Roadeo competition the winner, Kyle Jones, he'll go on to compete in our Southern California Regional Roadeo. Which will be the end of April. It'll be held at SunLine Transit.

That's where the various regional roadeo member agencies have one person that competes —one operator. That's just a practice, everybody that has won their local Roadeo, will go on to the international event.

In addition to getting the best score on the course, operators must meet other qualifications too. Including APTA (American Public Transportation Association), attendance, accidents, discipline, they have to have a clean record in those regards for the prior year to be eligible to compete.

So I then asked, "Some taxpayers might be scratching their heads, and wondering 'why have a Roadeo in the first place?' How would you answer them?"

The Roadeo competition does boost operator morale. We do have a set budget for the Roadeo competition but the majority of the effort is done on a volunteer basis.

Had to love the vintage bus that was on display. It was the first model RTA used back in the '60s.

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