Alberta’s best school bus drivers put their skills to the test in Red Deer.
More than 100 drivers representing bus carriers and school division transportation departments competed in the 39th annual Alberta School Bus Roadeo in the Ecole Secondaire Notre Dame High School parking lot Saturday.
“It’s fun every year and it’s a really good challenge,” said Carolyn Horman, a school bus driver and trainer with Prairie Bus Lines.
“We don’t do these kinds of manoeuvres in tight, close quarters often, so it’s fun to see how well you can keep up. It’s fun to be out here watching everyone else try to do it, too.”
The Red Deer bus driver said the parallel parking obstacle is the toughest.
“Testing out your skills is one thing, but it’s also about realizing how important the safety of the kids is. If these kinds of events can make you more aware in your bus and how you’re manoeuvring it … so when you are pulling up and picking up your students, you’re doing it a little more safely than you were the last time.”
Other obstacles included backing up and student pick up.
Kelli Pickett, safety and training co-ordinator with Red Deer Catholic transportation, said she was impressed by the drivers’ ability to successfully make their way through the various obstacles.
“The measurements are very small and have very tight spaces, so they have to be able to manoeuvre these large school buses through these small spaces, which really showcases their skills,” said Pickett.
Corinne Varga, Prairie Bus Lines operations manager, said many of the obstacles aren’t necessarily something the drivers see every day.
“On a daily basis, these school bus drivers don’t parallel park or go through an off-set alley. The obstacles are specified with specific dimensions, so it’s unique to their day-to-day driving skills. It challenges them and keeps their skills sharp.
“We do ongoing training all the time … so this isn’t really a day meant to increase their skill level or sharpen it. This is more of a fun day to challenge themselves,” said Varga.
The overall winner from the large and small bus competition will represent Alberta in the international school bus roadeo in Austin, Texas, in July.