JACKSONVILLE, Fla. --- Jacksonville bus operators are putting their skills into high gear for this year's Transit Bus Roadeo. The annual event is sponsored by the Jacksonville Transportation Association. The competition includes a written test, skills demonstrations and a timed driving course. There is also a timed maintenance course for mechanics. Last year's state roadeo was a sweep with JTA teams winning both the bus and maintenance competition.
Ramon Farfran is competing in this year's competition and he is no stranger to the course. Farfan was named the best bus operator of North America back in 2012 and he won the international crown that same year. He took home the gold at the Florida state competition in 2013.
Farfan believes practice makes perfect.
"Just focus and try to repeat it every time," said Farfan.
The drivers are putting their safety skills to the test on the course, and translating those skills to the roads of Jacksonville. According to JTA, 12.7 million passengers used the public transportation service in 2013.
Bus Roadeo organizers are hoping the competition creates a safe driver environment, both for drivers and passengers. Vice President of Transit Operation, Lisa Darnall says the number of accidents reported is declining.
"That's an example of what we teach our operators what not to do," said Darnall. "They can't just be concerned about the people on board the bus, they have to be concerned about their surroundings."
Darnall says operators face suspension or termination, depending on their work record.
This year's state rodeo will be held on April 4-5 in Daytona Beach. State winners will go on to International competition in Kansas City, Mo, in early May.