APTA | Passenger Transport
May 11, 2009

In This Issue


Los Angeles Metro Takes Top Bus Roadeo Award; APTA, FTA Present Other Honors During Conference

An APTA bus conference would not be complete without awards to some of our industry’s finest. From superior bus operating and maintenance skills to safety on the road to the challenge to provide superior customer service—APTA members excelled. Here is a round-up of the award winners.

International Bus Roadeo
At the end of APTA’s 34th Annual International Bus Roadeo, held May 1 in Seattle, the top award winner was Los Angeles Metro. Announced at the May 5 Roadeo Banquet, that award goes to the competing public transit system receiving the highest combined score among operators and mechanics. Adding to L.A.’s awards were Juan Navarro, placing second among operators of 40-foot buses, and the maintenance team of Frank Forde, Rommel Vargas, and Andrew Warren Jr., taking third place in their competition.

Howard Evans, Steve Hanks, and Joe Hulett, representing Community Transit in Snohomish County, WA, took the top spot among bus maintainers. The team from Omnitrans in San Bernardino, CA—Alex Hernandez, Archie Rockwell, and Phillip Sanchez—received second-place honors. 

Past winner Daniel R. Schmidt of Ben Franklin Transit in Richland, WA, again came in first among operators of 30-foot buses. Darrion Mitchell of Metro Transit System in Columbus, GA, came in second, and the San Francisco Metropolitan Transit Agency’s Kevin Grady placed third.

Brentt Mackie, representing Pierce Transit in Lakewood, WA, earned the top honor in the 40-foot bus operator category. Third place went to Elroy Williams of Texas DOT in Dallas.

A total of 36 maintenance teams and 78 operators, 54 in the 40-foot category and 24 in the 30-foot category, participated in this year’s roadeo.



Representatives of the Los Angeles Metro accepting the Grand Champion Award at the APTA Bus Roadeo Banquet include, front row from left, operator Juan Navarro and maintenance team members Frank Forde, Rommel Vargas, and Andrew Warren Jr.

From left: APTA Chair Beverly A. Scott, Ph.D.; Joyce Eleanor, chief executive officer of Community Transit; Howard Evans, Steve Hanks, and Joe Hulett, who received the first-place award for maintenance teams; and APTA President William W. Millar.




 Joyce Eleanor, APTA vice chair-bus and paratransit operations, presents Dan Schmidt of Ben Franklin Transit with the first-place award for 30-foot bus operators.

 Brentt Mackie, center, of Pierce Transit accepts the first-place award for operators of 40-foot buses. Joining him are Pierce Transit CEO Lynne Griffith and Sam Desue, vice president of transportation services.

Customer Service Challenge
This competition—held for the fourth consecutive year—was developed by two APTA committees: Marketing and Communications and International Bus Roadeo. Its purpose is to showcase the vital role that bus operators play in customer service—and how their efforts contribute to an organization’s success. This year, Jairo Naranjo of the Chicago Transit Authority took first prize, and Paul Goodwin of Kitsap Transit in Bremerton, WA, placed second.

Seven contestants took part in the challenge, competing in three tasks: greet a boarding passenger; participate in a scenario involving a passenger who does not realize the farebox does not give change; and respond to a randomly selected situation. For Naranjo, it was dealing with a passenger who carried a large 2 x 4 onboard, inadvertently bumping into people while trying to find a place for the plank on a crowded bus. Goodwin’s scenario had him coping with a passenger in cap and gown, late for her college graduation.

Bus Safety
On the issue of bus safety, Joyce Eleanor, APTA vice chair-bus and paratransit operations, presented the APTA Bus Safety Gold Awards to four public transportation agencies and one management company during the Opening General Session on May 3.

Southwest Metro Transit in Eden Prairie, MN, received the Gold Award for public transit agencies that provide more than one million and less than four million passenger trips annually. The SunLine Transit Agency in Thousand Palms, CA, received the Merit Award in that category.

Among transit agencies providing more than four million and fewer than 30 million annual rides, the Transit Authority of River City in Louisville, KY, took the Gold Award. Merit Awards went to the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority in Austin, TX; Community Transit in Snohomish County, WA; and Ames Transit Agency (CyRide) in Ames, IA.

Two agencies tied in the category of transit agencies with more than 30 million annual trips: the Toronto Transit Commission and Metro Transit in Minneapolis/St. Paul. King County Metro Transit in Seattle and Dallas Area Rapid Transit received Merit Awards in this category.

Veolia Transportation in Phoenix received the Gold Award in the category of private contractors for bus systems.

FTA Recognizes Ridership Gains
In conjunction with the APTA conference, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) honored 10 public transit agencies for substantially increasing their ridership since 2006. FTA presented its third annual Ridership Awards at a May 4 session during the conference in Seattle: 

* Under 50,000 in population: Finney County Transit, Garden City, KS.

* Population of 50,000 to 200,000: Coeur d’Alene Tribe and Citylink, Worley, ID; Intercity Transit, Olympia, WA; Ozark Regional Transit, Springdale, AR; River Valley Metro Mass Transit, Bourbonnais, IL; and Whatcom Transportation Authority, Bellingham, WA.

* Population of 200,000 to one million: Capital District Transportation Authority, Albany, NY; Coast Transit Authority, Gulfport, MS; and Community Transit, Snohomish County, WA.

* Over one million in population: MTA Bus Company, New York, NY.


 Matthew Welbes, FTA executive director and acting deputy administrator, presents the FTA Ridership Award to 10 public transit agencies.

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