JTA drivers, technicians compete for bus supremacy

JTA Bus Roadeo held at downtown headquarters Sunday

By Scott Johnson - Reporter

JTA bus drivers competed in driver challenge at the JTA headquarters in downtown Sunday

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A competition of sorts with the best bus drivers and technicians in the Jacksonville area, and they’re calling it a roadeo…. That’s R-O-A-D-eo, because it’s not about bucking broncos -- it’s all about JTA buses.

Drivers competed in the unique bus driving competition Sunday morning at the JTA headquarters downtown. It was a chance for the drivers who navigate Jacksonville’s roads in some of the hardest vehicles to show off their skills. 

Just imagine how hard it is to take a sharp turn in, say, a van or mobile home -- it’s not easy. Now imagine doing it constantly with a city bus. 

“(It’s) very difficult,” JTA bus driver Kimberly Howard said. “We got the serpentine and it’s definitely difficult. And we got the alley docking. And, most importantly, we’ve got the tennis balls. Now that’s a tough challenge."

Howard said for the tennis ball challenge, drivers have to line their bus up and place a ball between the two rear tires without popping them.

“Each year gets better and better,” Howard said. “I tell you it’s great. Each and every year I get better when I drive.”

The goal of the competition is to see who the best in the fleet is.

News4Jax spoke with Nathanial Ford, CEO of JTA. He said the competition is an example of what the drivers and technicians deal with every day: navigating difficult roads and doing it safely.

“Imagine what they do on a daily basis, pedestrians, bicyclists and automobiles, definitely. So they’re able to navigate that and take our customers where they need to go safely. They do a great job,” Ford said.

The winners will head to Daytona Beach April 27 and 28 for the annual Florida Triple Crown Bus Roadeo.

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