Yeehaw! Drivers compete in first Muni ‘Roadeo’ in 8 years
Ed. note: Ever wonder what your Muni driver does in their spare time? Over the weekend, some of them competed in the first “Muni Bus Roadeo” since last decade.
Friends of Muni Diaries Steve and Amanda were there to capture some of the excitement. Here’s their report:
The 2016 Muni Bus Roadeo is an event where Muni’s smoothest operators show off their skills in a competition of skill, speed, and safety.
This weekend’s event was the first Roadeo since 2008. In that span, however, San Francisco has been represented at the Super Bowl of bus driving—the American Public Transportation Association’s International Bus Roadeo.
Saturday was a cold and foggy morning when the drivers started, but the sun shined in the afternoon, reflecting off the participants’ neon safety vests.
Families sat in bleachers and white folding chairs along the perimeter of the course. There was a lot of laughter and playful ribbing in the crowd. You could smell the diesel while watching the buses cruise through scattered leaves with San Bruno Mountain as backdrop.
Muni operators were quick to note that San Francisco has the best drivers because they train every day on the toughest course: the streets of the city.
As each competitor began their run, an announcer told the crowd of their likes, heroes, and personal statements.
Muni’s own Kevin Grady won best bus driver at the 40th annual APTA Roadeo in 2015. Grady has represented SFMTA at the international competition in previous years. Here’s Grady flying through some barrels into a “judgement stop.” The Roadeo announcer mentioned that Kevin, who is a cable car operator and has been with SFMTA for 26 years, is a competitor who admires his passengers and his paycheck.
Drivers competed in a timed route of obstacles and maneuvers such as turns, judgement stops, lane changes, serpentines, and reverse moves. Drivers had to execute each task according to safety and accessibility codes and they were also judged on their safety and personal appearance. The course finale was a narrow lane of barrels that drivers—often unsuccessfully—tried to to thread into a final, sharp stop.
Ed. note: The SF Examiner covered the event, focusing on a mother-daughter Muni operator duo who competed in the veteran and newcomer categories, respectively.