Transit Planning
Press Release

IMMEDIATE RELEASE                              
Contact: Judy Dellert-O’Keef, 704-432-0477


Charlotte, N.C., April 14, 2011 - Bus Operators put their safe driving skills to the test as they compete for a chance to be crowned the best during the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) annual Bus Roadeo. The Roadeo is this Saturday, April 16, starting at 8 a.m. at the Charlotte Vehicle Operations Center, located at 2725 Beam Road.

Come watch the competition as 24 drivers from CATS Bus Operations Division (BOD) and Special Transportation Service (STS) and six drivers from Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services (DSS) put their driving and safety skills through a series of challenging tests. BOD operators must navigate a 40-foot bus and STS and DSS operators must navigate a paratransit vehicle through an obstacle course that includes several driving elements such as passenger stops, serpentine turns and backing maneuvers. They are judged on how safely and quickly they complete the course and on their professional appearance, pre-trip inspection and a written safety test.

The Bus Roadeo is an important part of CATS’ safety initiatives because it tests the skills drivers use every day. Operators undergo intensive training before they get behind the wheel of a CATS bus, including a five-week session to learn the do’s and don’ts of the road, Smith System defensive driving and road training, as well as year-round retraining.

This attention to safety has helped CATS dramatically decrease its accident rate, achieving a 27 percent reduction over the last three years. CATS buses traveled over 12.8 million miles last year and maintained a preventable accident rate of 0.40 per 100,000 miles and 0.36 per 100,000 miles, for BOD and STS respectively. These performance indicators for bus and paratransit services exceeded industry standards.

“CATS travels more miles with an increasing number of passengers every year, making it essential that we step up our safety. CATS operators, like all drivers, never know what they’re going to encounter when they hit the streets,” said Bryan Leaird, CATS’ General Manager of Safety and Security. “Our training prepares our operators to handle a variety of situations from traffic congestion to inclement weather to customers’ needs so they are ready for the uncertainties of Charlotte roadways. The Bus Roadeo is just one way that we show our commitment to safety, while giving operators the chance to demonstrate their safe-driving skills on a local, state and national level.”

To learn more about CATS and its services, visit www.ridetransit.org, or call 704-336- 7433.