CTC Hosts the Regional Bus Road-e-o at Caldwell’s Jefferson Middle School

Bussy from the Bus Road-e-0

What’s with all the balloons, bus drivers, and food trucks?

It’s Bus Road-e-o time, and this year, Caldwell Transportation is hosting the regional event that’s open to the public.

What’s a Road-e-o?

It’s where CTC’s shop bay gets overtaken by scorekeepers, drivers, judges, and score sheet runners that go from our bus lot to Jefferson Middle School.

It’s where drivers from CTC and other companies like Cascade, Brown, Middleton, Caldwell Transportation in Mountain Home (also us), and First Student compete for bragging rights on who’s got crazy-good skills behind the wheel while their friends and family root for them.

With five regions within Idaho, drivers will travel from as far North as McCall, as far East as Mountain Home, and as far west as Fruitland.

The competition level is high, and so is the blood pressure as drivers take part in high-skill written pre-trip and driving tests. They're sweating it for 2-3 hours or more, all the while having no idea where they rank until the competition is all over.

The course, established years ago, is sufficiently evil. Student loading, parallel parking, straight line backing, parking, right-hand turns, a 90-degree offset alley docking with diminishing clearance, sharp left pivot turns, and anything else that might make even the best of professional drivers nervous.

One competitive maneuver includes tennis balls lined up three inches wider than the width of a bus’s dualies. The trick is to pass through without disturbing any of the balls, which will shoot out an impressive distance if tires hit them just the right way.

As if that’s not challenging enough, drivers will be working with fairly unfamiliar vehicles, two of CTC’s identical conventional buses, shined up for the event.

Valerie Jenkins, Caldwell Transportation’s coordinator of this year’s event, tells us, “They cannot use their bus that they use on their daily routes.”

The idea is to make drivers just disoriented enough to make it interesting.

There are also different vehicle categories, each with varying steadiness requirements of hands, steering wheels, and the wheels on the ground.

The grassy area at Jefferson Middle School is ideal for spectators coming to watch their favorite bus drivers crush their competition.

Participants, judges, score runners and other helpers will get a free meal from Bang on the Wall Burgers, this year’s featured food truck, and CTC is supplying the beverages.

As far as Road-e-o champs go, we’ve had plenty. But so have other transportation companies who take the competition very seriously, which means the heat’s going to get turned up on May 14th.  CTC’s own AJ Nestor, Bob Parent, Jessica Hoffman and others have competed in the State and International Road-e-os.

We asked AJ Nestor about her Road-e-o experience:

“Everybody’s watching,” she says, “It makes your nervous. You don’t know what the judges are thinking. Are they thinking, ‘She totally missed that’? You go straight from being stressed out about the pre-trip test to getting behind the wheel. And you have no idea how well you did until the end when they add up the scores. You’re pretty much stressed from beginning to end.”

Which could mean 2-3 hours or longer.

The competitors vary, too. Some are “super hard core”; very focused.  Some won’t do a lot of socializing with their competition. Conversely, some just sign up for the excitement, entertainment, to meet some fellow drivers, and for the pure fun of it.

AJ says that the majority of drivers will need to go home afterward and take a good long nap.

Those excelling in their categories at the Regional Road-e-o (Conventional, Transit, Special Needs, Coach), will go on to State competition, and if they win State, to the 2-day International competition with hundreds of other professional drivers from all over the U.S. and Canada.

“It’s harder there,” AJ remembers, “Where we use spray painted lines and cones, they use little bitty ropes that are hard to see when you’re parallel parking. They’re testing your skill, your nerves, and your eyesight.”

For this year’s Regional Road-e-o, a winner will be picked the same day, and will walk away with a coveted Regional Road-e-o trophy.

*Join us on Saturday, May 14th at the Jefferson Middle School (3311 S. 10th Avenue, Caldwell, Idaho) parking lot from 9 am until we have a winner. Watch the Road-e-o, grab some Bang on the Wall Burgers, and soak up some rays with the CTC team. 

*NOW HIRING DRIVERS or call 459-6612 and ask for “Val” with referral code “A.”

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