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Bus rodeo promotes friendly competition, connection among districts

By Kendra Caruso | Apr 21, 2021
Photo by: Kendra Caruso Bus drivers from RSU 71, RSU 3 and RSU 20 line up behind Troy Howard Middle school waiting to complete obstacles in a Bus Rodeo April 20.

Belfast — Regional School Unit 71 hosted a bus rodeo to challenge its own bus drivers, along with drivers from RSU 3 and RSU 20 in a friendly competition at Troy Howard Middle School, where drivers from each district worked as a team to gain points and win a trophy.

The event was hosted by Maine Association for Pupil Transportation and served as a training session, RSU 20 Director of Building, Grounds and Transportation Russ Flagg said. MAPT conducts regional and state bus rodeo competitions, according to MAPT Associate III Vendor Rep Clifford Chase.

Chase developed the obstacle course set up in the parking lot behind the school and oversaw the competition, which culminated in an awards lunch. There were five obstacles: diminishing cones, straight line, offset alley curb and stop finish.

Four buses were used with at least one bus from each district. Drivers did not choose which bus they drove, but could not drive their usual bus, and did not necessarily drive a bus that was from their own district.

It is school vacation week, so staff from the three districts volunteered for the event and bus drivers who participated took time out of their vacation. “They’re taking time out of their vacation week, which is another cool thing, it’s not required to be here,” RSU 3 Transportation Facilities Director Pete Quimby said.

Sonya McCaslin, an RSU 3 driver, was the only bus driver in the offset alley obstacle who did not run over the same cone as every other bus driver, Quimby said. Every driver knocked tennis balls off the small pegs they were balanced on during the straight line obstacle, according to RSU 71 maintenance worker Jeff Gilmore.

It was RSU 3 bus driver and mechanic Eli Lewin’s first competition. He ran over only one cone, the same cone almost all the other bus divers ran over. He said the event was “good, you know, friendly.”

RSU 71 Director of Transportation Gerry French said it has been two years since the district has been able to participate in an event like this. He hopes it will become an annual event and the trophy will be passed among the districts from year to year.

He said it is a friendly competition among area districts, but it is also an event that creates connections between staff from each district. “We all know each other and we respect each other’s skill level, and it’s nice to see everybody,” he said.

RSU 3 earned the highest score, with RSU 20 coming in second and RSU 71 coming in third, according to French. He was ranked the top RSU director, with Quimby coming in second and Flagg third.

A bus driver drives over material that is supposed to simulate a curb in an obstacle during a Bus Rodeo at Troy Howard Middle School April 20. (Photo by: Kendra Caruso)
A bus driver grazes one of the cones sit up at the offset alley obstacle during a Bus Rodeo April 20 at Troy Howard Middle School. (Photo by: Kendra Caruso)
RSU 71 Director of Transportation Gerry French measures a bus driver's distance from a stop line in one of the obstacles at a Bus Rodeo at Troy Howard Middle School April 20.
RSU 3 bus driver and mechanic Eli Lewin exits a bus after finishing the obstacle course at a Bus Rodeo April 20 at Troy Howard Middle School. (Photo by: Kendra Caruso)
Tennis balls sit on the pavement after a bus driver knocked them off of small pegs they were displayed on at one of the obstacles during a Bus Rodeo April 20 at Troy Howard Middle School. (Photo by: Kendra Caruso)
Tayden Richards places tennis balls back on small pegs so another bus driver can run the obstacle at a Bus Rodeo April 20 at Troy Howard Middle School. (Photo by: Kendra Caruso)
The trophy for which bus drivers competed at a Bus Rodeo April 20 at Troy Howard Middle School. (Photo by: Kendra Caruso)
(Photo by: Kendra Caruso)
(Photo by: Kendra Caruso)
(Photo by: Kendra Caruso)
(Photo by: Kendra Caruso)
(Photo by: Kendra Caruso)
(Photo by: Kendra Caruso)
(Photo by: Kendra Caruso)
(Photo by: Kendra Caruso)
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