Submitted by: Whatcom Transportation Authority
Johnathan Taylor has been a Whatcom Transportation Authority (WTA) Transit Operator since 2014. His first day was April Fool’s Day, to be precise—a detail he conveys with a grin. In addition to enjoying the job itself (his favorite part is “meeting awesome people” every day), Johnathan has a related interest: putting his professional driving skills to the test.
WTA organizes a “Roadeo” for its Transit Operators each June. The rodeo takes key aspects of professional driving, including completing a pre-trip safety inspection, securing a passenger in a wheelchair, and navigating the bus through several skills courses, and turns them into a competition.
The winners in two categories—fixed route and paratransit—go on to compete in the Washington State Roadeo, held in a different Washington city each August.
As the 2019 winner in WTA’s paratransit contest, Johnathan has been gearing up to compete at the state competition, to be held on August 18 in SeaTac. If he places in the top three, he’ll become the first WTA driver ever to do so. He’ll also go on to compete against the best in the nation, at the Community Transportation Association of America National Bus Roadeo in Louisville, Kentucky.
When he competes on Sunday, he’ll be in a different bus than he’s used to driving. So part of his preparation has been practicing the skills course in different buses, watching videos, and studying the mirror position, wheel base, and length of the bus he’ll drive in competition. All competitors will be allowed two practice runs in that bus on Saturday, the day before the Roadeo.
Asked how he’s feeling about the big day, he says, “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. I’m going there for a reason, and although the roadeo is fun, for me it’s also serious.” In addition to satisfying a competitive streak, Johnathan sees the rodeo as a rich professional development opportunity. “I encourage my coworkers to compete every year, because I think it can make us better drivers. It gives us a chance to get to know the bus better, to test what the bus can and can’t do.”
WTA employees are eager and excited to see what Johnathan can do, when he “goes to state” in SeaTac this Sunday.