Chapel Hill Transit driver Larry Villines frantically checked between the side mirrors and the windshield of his bus as he backed it between orange cones, under the watchful gaze of three judges in the back timing and marking his every move.
Villines was concentrating on steering through an obstacle course in the annual Regional Bus and Van Roadeo, held Sunday morning at the Chapel Hill Transit facility.
Bus and van operators were tested on their ability to demonstrate safe and efficient methods of public transportation.
Dwight Butler, safety and training coordinator for the town and chairman of the regional “roadeo” committee, said the competition helps the transit system maintain quality and motivate drivers.
“We are able to see who the best operators are, how the transit system trains its operators and what we can do to make the systems work better,” Butler said.
Chapel Hill Transit and 10 other transit systems from the region participated, including Triangle Transit and Durham Area Transit Authority.
Drivers come for the fun, the competitive atmosphere and the chance to win money at a national level competition.
“It boosts morale, and the overall winner gets bragging rights for the year,” Butler said.
The competition awarded a first, second and third place winner in three vehicle categories. Drivers also took a written exam on emergency management and procedures for fire or evacuation.