Bus Operators take their driving skills to a competitive course as they compete for a chance to be crowned the best during the Charlotte Area Transit System’s (CATS) Bus Roadeo.
The Roadeo will be held Saturday, March 29, starting at 8 a.m. at the Charlotte Vehicle Operations Center.
Twenty drivers from CATS Bus Operations Division (BOD) and 10 drivers from Special Transportation Service (STS) will put their driving and safety skills through a series of challenging tests. BOD operators must navigate a 40-foot bus and STS drivers must navigate a paratransit vehicle through an obstacle course that includes everyday driving elements such as passenger stops, serpentine turns and backing maneuvers. All drivers will be judged on how safely and timely they complete the course. They will also be critiqued on their professional appearance, pre-trip inspection and a written safety test.
“Our training stresses safety and customer service, and these operators are the best of the best,” said Levern McElveen, CATS’ General Manager of Safety and Security. “We put a lot of emphasis on training to prepare our operators to handle a variety of situations from traffic congestion to inclement weather to customers’ needs so that they are ready for the uncertainties of Charlotte roadways. The Bus Roadeo is just one way that we show our commitment to safety, while giving operators the chance to demonstrate their safe-driving skills on a local, state and national level.”
The Bus Roadeo is an important part of CATS’ safety initiatives because it tests the skills drivers use every day to make sure they safely arrive to a destination. Operators undergo intensive training even before they get behind the wheel of a CATS bus, including a five-week session to learn the dos and don’ts of the road, Smith System defensive driving and road training, as well as year-round retraining.
In 2013 CATS received top honors from the North Carolina Public Transportation Association (NCPTA) as safest transit systems in the state. STS received the award for the safest Urban Dial-A-Ride system in the state for the fifth consecutive year. BOD received its seventh award as the Safest Large Bus System in the state. CATS ended Fiscal Year 2013 with an overall system-wide vehicular accident rate of 0.44 per 100,000 miles. Last year CATS bus operators drove over 15 million miles and transported over 20.7 million riders.