LARAMIE — Jody Sullivan is eager to demonstrate on the national level the driving and safety skills he has learned as a University of Wyoming transit bus operator.
Sullivan will represent Wyoming at the Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA) National Bus Roadeo in Pittsburgh, Pa., June 9-11.
He won the best overall title at last summer’s WYTRANS Bus Roadeo to earn a trip to the national competition, where he will compete against nearly 80 other bus drivers.
He received $1,000 for winning the state competition.
“I am very excited to have a chance to represent the University of Wyoming,” says Sullivan, who has been driving for UW Transit and Parking Services for nearly three years. “We have high standards for our transit operators, and I am excited to show the level of skill we have.”
Sullivan started as an assigned route driver for UW Transit and Parking, but is now a full-time “floater,” meaning that he can fill in and cover any route.
“I took the step into that to gain more responsibility and also to provide extra leadership to our part-time floater staff,” he says. Sullivan also drives for current route drivers, covering for morning breaks as well as for lunches.
For the state competition, Sullivan drove a 16-passenger bus and competed against 20 other drivers. The competition for nationals will be the same, with four different required tests for all drivers.
Drivers will be given a written exam covering general driving rules, followed by the hands-on portion of the competition that includes:
- A pre-trip inspection to find “faults” with the bus. Competitors have a set time limit of seven minutes to perform a complete pre-trip inspection.
- Wheelchair securement. Drivers are required to properly load and secure a passenger in a wheelchair. Once that task is completed, the judge will check to see if the chair is properly secured and the seat belt in place.
- The driving course, composed of 10 obstacles and scoring on smoothness of operation during a seven-minute time limit. The course is marked with cones, and each has a point value assigned. Drivers are assessed lost points if a cone is hit.
Sullivan is working with UW safety and training Manager Kevin Colman in preparation for the national competition.
“We have a mock course set up in our practice lot, and we run through the course multiple times,” Sullivan says. “We will be running through pre-trips and wheelchair securement as many times as we can. I also will study the general ‘rules of the road’ pamphlet.”
The 29th annual CTAA Roadeo draws drivers from around the country to compete for top scores on a course that tests skills on every level of the drivers’ abilities, with a primary focus on safe operations and passenger sensitivity.