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Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority Serving Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia Counties

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SEPTA Team to go for "Three-peat" at International Bus Roadeo

by Manny Smith & Heather Redfern
SEPTA Media Relations

Continuing a streak of award-winning competition, forty SEPTA bus operators eleven teams of maintenance technicians from our regional operating depots competed in the 30th Annual SEPTA Bus and Maintenance Roadeo on Saturday, September 6 at the Cornwells Heights Station parking lot.

Always a highlight on the annual SEPTA Calendar - the event is a chance for employees to show off their talents and skills before an audience of co-workers, family, and friends. During the fierce - but friendly competition, operators contend on an 11-obstacle driving course which must be completed within seven minutes, testing their safety skills, overall bus operation and even their personal uniform appearance. On the mechanical side, competition is completed in teams and focuses on tasks including engine, HVAC, and electrical diagnostics and repairs complete with written and mechanical tests. The operators and teams are assigned points for each part of the competition and those with the most total points are crowned the overall winners.

The Roadeo also offers activities for those not competing on the course, including employee health screenings, benefit program vendors, special activities for children and a beloved yearly display of transit vehicles from SEPTA's past and present. More than 15 vehicles were on display this year including buses from Greyhound, New Jersey Transit, and MTA Maryland.

For the first time in many years, the "Celebrity Roadeo" returned to the event with SEPTA's Assistant General Manager -Operations Ronald Hopkins and Surface Transportation Chief Michael Liberi dueling it out on the bus operator course. All in attendance eagerly watched a fierce runoff between the two SEPTA Veterans and, with a very close score tabulated at the end, Hopkins edged out Liberi "by a nose" to take home the vaunted "Crushed Cone Award."

New to the event this year was the awarding of a special honor from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) for Bus Inspection. "Officials from the agency were interested in evaluating the expertise of our maintenance technicians," said Joy Watson, the longtime coordinator of the SEPTA Bus Roadeo. The "Comly II" team of Jonaton Munoz, Gregory Strecker and Adam Goncharsky of Comly Depot took home the PennDOT prize for bus inspection.

In spite of extremely humid outdoor conditions, spectators remained for the duration of the event to witness the display of the extraordinary abilities performed by participating employees. "This event is an opportunity for our bus operators and maintenance personnel to showcase the skills they use on the job every day," said SEPTA General Manager Joseph M. Casey. "SEPTA is proud of its talented workforce."

The top finishers or 'Grand Champions' of the 2014 Bus Roadeo Operator Completion were:

1. Zenon "John" Rinylo, Southern District
2. Victor Tarver, Callowhill District
3. Carl Porter, Allegheny District

Rinylo and Tarver will travel to Somerset, PA to represent SEPTA in the Pennsylvania Public Transportation Association Roadeo and later Fort Worth, TX to represent the Authority in the International Bus Roadeo. At the APTA International Bus Roadeo, Rinylo will be joined by the winners of the 2014 Bus Maintenance Roadeo, the 'Midvale Mud Dogs' team of Bill Beirn, Joe Miller and Gene Bonner of the Midvale Maintenance Depot.

If the teams are successful at the international event, it will represent a third consecutive win for the Authority at the contest against a competitive field of transit agency workers from around the globe. "We already know that our operating personnel bring their outstanding skills and efforts to work each day to deliver superior transit service for our riders," said Casey. "SEPTA could not be more proud of our team and we wish them the best of luck at PPTA & APTA. We look forward to making more room at SEPTA Headquarters for the trophies they will be sure to bring back home."



The 2014 Roadeo Winners pose with General Manager Joseph M. Casey and Deputy General Manager Jeffrey Knueppel.



A driver completes the "diminishing clearance" section of the roadeo.