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What Makes a Great Bus Driver, According to the Best in the World

Past and present champions of the world’s premier bus-driving competition tell all.
Champion transit agencies. From left, clockwise: CyRide, Ames, Iowa; COTA, central Ohio; CCRTA, Corpus Christi, Texas; Ben Franklin Transit, Tri-Cities, Washington
Champion transit agencies. From left, clockwise: CyRide, Ames, Iowa; COTA, central Ohio; CCRTA, Corpus Christi, Texas; Ben Franklin Transit, Tri-Cities, WashingtonWikimedia Commons

Drivers maneuver around 11 obstacles. They need to get close to curbs, tennis balls, and cones, but can’t touch them. They need to go fast, but not over the speed limit. They can’t brake where they shouldn’t, or too hard—there are judges and special tracking equipment on board to make sure the ride is nice and smooth. They need to complete the course as designed (and every course is different). They’re docked points for infractions—for bumping, scraping or knocking over a cone, for passing on the wrong side, for backing up, or for stopping, even just for a moment.

They’re steering buses—some up to 40 feet long. And they need to use the buses provided by the competition’s home agency, not the ones they drive at home. They have seven minutes.