In a tradition spanning 17 years, The University of New Mexico’s Parking & Transportation Services (PATS) Shuttle division launched a spirited competition among its skilled drivers. Recently, the vibrant atmosphere at PATS heralded the 15th installment of the Bus Roadeo, an event that provided eight adept shuttle drivers with a platform to flaunt their transit prowess.

The Bus Roadeo stands as a rigorous assessment of drivers' grasp of their New Mexico CDL license, adherence to passenger standards, safety protocols, and adeptness behind the wheel.

This year's Bus Roadeo underwent an overhaul under the guidance of the 2023 Roadeo committee. The aim was to elevate the event's professionalism, organization, and impartiality. Recognizing the interdepartmental nature of the Bus Roadeo, 2023 Roadeo committee ingeniously balanced the competition landscape by engaging external adjudicators. The esteemed judges included:

  • Shawn Arruti, UNM Parking & Transportation Services
  • Maya Williams, UNM Facilities Management
  • Joseph Silva, chief, UNM Police
  • Sarah Scott, UNM Institutional Support Services
  • Byron Piatt, UNM Emergency manager
  • Janey Flores, UNM Hospital Parking & Transportation Services
  • Danny Torres, Lonestar Truck Group
  • Johnny Gonzales, ABQ Ride Retiree with 30+ years of transit experience

2023 Roadeo committee visionary approach extended to incorporating national standards, introducing a pre-trip shuttle inspection and a comprehensive obstacle course walk-through before the main event. Each obstacle course trial was meticulously evaluated based on these national standards. The inclusion of a written test has always been an integral component of the Bus Roadeo, ensuring that each participant demonstrates their knowledge comprehensively.

PATS Rodeo 4
Member of the Roadeo committee grading a bus driver's performance

The crux of the Bus Roadeo centered on underscoring drivers' unwavering dedication to safety and customer satisfaction. The event functioned as a dynamic catalyst for enhancing drivers' self-assurance, driving aptitude, and departmental morale. Significantly, the shuttles employed throughout the course were recent acquisitions, made possible through PATS funding. The obstacle course ingeniously replicated real-world scenarios, encompassing maneuvers like left turns, rear duals, serpentine paths, passenger stops, right turns, alley docks, judgment stops, and off-set challenges. These trials critically assessed participants' hands-on acumen.

Claiming the coveted champion title was Pedro Hernandez, a standout driver who has been a fixture within the department since Aug. 2015. Hernandez, an active participant in the Bus Roadeo since 2016, boasts an impressive 20-year track record with his CDL license. Meanwhile, Mario Garay secured the contender spot, and Bernadette Salazar earned third place as the challenger. The triumphant trio walked away with limited-edition button badges of honor, esteemed award certificates, diminutive trophies, and a year's worth of well-earned bragging rights. All participants were duly recognized with certificates of participation and an exclusive "I Survived the Bus Roadeo" button. Participating drivers included AJ Lopez, William Le Beau, Stephanie Perea, Jason Martinez, and Mario Padilla.

Looking ahead, 2023 Roadeo committee envisions a Bus Roadeo reimagined. Their aspirations encompass shifting the event to a late July weekend, involving a wider spectrum of PATS staff from various divisions, and extending an open invitation to the public. This foresight underscores the desire to underline the event's significance and extend its impact beyond the department's boundaries.