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MARTA Bus Rodeo!

September 20, 2009
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Neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow… Sometimes black ice keeps the bus drivers away. Particularly on wicked hills like the inbound 15th at Arts Center.

But today was a day for celebration, as the MARTA Bus Rodeo took place in the south parking lot of Brookhaven Station. Last year, some errant parkers had to be towed away. The event is basically like a business picnic for bus operators, mechanics, supervisors and anyone else who wants to show up. This includes a few of the dorks I know. I myself didn’t hear a word of it until it was over, and I’ll tell you, That’s MARTA! is pissed about missing the free cotton candy.

There are tests of skill, such as mechanics being given a non-functioning piece of equipment, for which they must figure out what’s wrong and fix it. It’s unclear whether any of them are tricks.

My favorite of the bus olympics are the driving accuracy tests, where a course is set up for buses to navigate. Drivers first have to make a tight turn between two cones and clear the outer one, then navigate the two right wheels through a straight line of fixed-position tennis balls, and lastly, stop between two cones set up to mark where the doors must be positioned.

Then, there’s a barbecue, after which the winners are announced. Typically, the winners get a decal on their bus, a bus they get to drive for something like a year, instead of switching out every morning at the garage.

Winners for this year in Big Bus Fixed Routes are Jimmy Gibbs, 1st Place; Cindy Holt, 2nd Place; Greg Smith, 3rd Place. Mobility is David Ward. There really is nothing better than a driver’s seat that knows your contours.

(Nerds, feel free to correct me on this.)

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