Capital Metro bus drivers and mechanics show their skill in national competition

On May 20, the Capital Metro board of directors and President/CEO Linda Watson recognized bus operators and mechanics who represented Capital Metro at the local, state and international roadeo events.
On May 20, the Capital Metro board of directors and President/CEO Linda Watson recognized bus operators and mechanics who represented Capital Metro at the local, state and international roadeo events.

Yesterday, the Capital Metro board recognized the bus operators and mechanics who competed at the local, state and national Bus Roadeo competitions this spring.

A handful of the 1,000+ bus operators and mechanics who drive and service Capital Metro buses represented Capital Metro and the State of Texas at the International Bus Roadeo on May 5, in Indianapolis, Indiana.  McDonald bus operators Arthur “Ace” Murillo and Abdelkader Tenouri placed 5th and 6th, respectively, in the 35-Foot Bus division, and Porfirio “Pistol Pete” Rivera was 21st out of 50 competitors in the 40-Foot Bus division.

McDonald maintenance team Jaime Ayala, John Proske and Gary Robledo placed 10th in the Maintenance division. They were the only team to receive a perfect score in one of the challenge events.

Bus operators Arthur Murillo, Pete Rivera and Abdel Tenouri enjoy the 2013 International Bus Roadeo in Indianapolis.
Bus operators Arthur Murillo, Pete Rivera and Abdel Tenouri enjoy the 2013 International Bus Roadeo in Indianapolis.

Murillo has won the international event four times, and Tenouri also has an international title under his belt.

Congrats to all of these very skilled competitors! And there’s one more competitor to watch this season: MetroAccess Van Operator Ted Ward will compete in the National Community Transit Roadeo on June 2.

Browse photos from the 2013 Texas State Roadeo

TODAY: Nominate Arthur as Austin Chronicle’s Best Operator

Today’s the last day to vote, click here to nominate

Every year, the Austin Chronicle hosts their “Best of Austin” competition.

Austinites have the chance to vote for their favorites around town, from restaurants to media outlets. Aside from those traditional categories, the Chronicle gives everyone an opportunity to think outside the box and nominate a Wild Card topic for someone you would give an award to.

We think our very own bus operator, Arthur Murillo deserves an award for his outstanding work. Today is the deadline to vote, so log-on to: and scroll to the bottom of the page and fill in Arthur’s name in the Wild Card category.

Why should you nominate him?

  • Arthur is a four-time International Bus Roadeo Champion.

    Four-time international champion Arthur Murillo has driven buses for Capital Metro customers for 25 years.
  • He won his fourth title earlier this year.
  • He was voted Best Bus Operator in the Austin Chronicle in 2006.
  • He’s got more than 25 years behind the saddle driving folks around Austin as a professional bus operator.

Let’s get some votes going and help give Arthur an award he truly deserves.

Read more about Arthur’s previous  competition wins here.

Arthur Murillo is “best bus operator in North America”

Arthur Murillo is ready to compete
Four-time international champion Arthur Murillo has driven buses for Capital Metro customers for 28 years.

Capital Metro Bus Operator Arthur Murillo has been named the best bus operator in North America. He competed in the 2012 International Bus Roadeo in California this weekend and won 1st Place in the 35-foot bus competition. Congratulations Arthur!

This makes Arthur a four-time winner of the International title, we are very proud to have a representative of Capital Metro accomplish such success.

The Roadeo is a bus operator and mechanic competition held at the local, state and international level every year. Along with Arthur, our mechanic team placed at both the local and state level earlier this year.

The American Public Transportation Association International Competition Bus Roadeo is designed to put bus operators and mechanics in their element as they are judged against their peers in a series of challenges. 

Dottie, Arthur and his trophy
VP of Bus & Paratransit Services Dottie Watkins and Bus Operator Arthur Murillo in Long Beach.

Bus operators must steer their way along an obstacle course  as they are timed and judged for accuracy and safety. In the Mechanic competition, participants are judged on their ability to resolve bus maintenance and diagnostic issues while also being timed and compared on accuracy.

The Capital Metro team received an overall ranking of #7 among the 28 other teams in the competition. Arthur completed his obstacle course in an astounding 7 minutes and 3 seconds, beating out 19 other bus operators from across the country.

Roadeo ringer?

We knew we were getting a top-notch transit leader when our board members hired Linda Watson as president/CEO last year, but we didn’t realize they were also hiring a bus roadeo ringer, sort of.

First, congratulations to our own Arthur Murillo. He’s a three-time International Bus Roadeo champion, and he finished third in his category at the annual event earlier this week in Nashville. You can read more about Arthur and our other competitors here.

Now, the Linda connection. As we were looking over the list of winners from the International Roadeo, we spotted an interesting trend. Every transit system where Linda has been the boss, or second in command, took home a trophy at the prestigious event:

  • Pablo Perez from LYNX (Orlando) – 1st place in 40-foot bus category and named “best bus operator in North America”
  • Julian Carranza, Jr. from Corpus Christi Regional Transportation Authority – 1st place in 35-foot bus category
  • Arthur Murillo from Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Austin) – 3rd place in 35-foot bus category
  • Maintenance team from Fort Worth Transportation Authority – 3rd place in maintenance competition

I’m not suggesting that Linda has the Midas touch, so don’t ask her to pick your lottery numbers. After all, Capital Metro competitors have scored well at roadeo competitions long before she got here. But it is good to know that there’s a strong culture safety, training and professionalism wherever she’s been.

Capital Metro Bus Operator Amos Underwood Wins Texas State Bus Roadeo

The sweet look of victory: Amos Underwood celebrates after competing in the 40-foot bus category at the Texas State Bus Roadeo.

We have the best bus drivers, the best MetroAccess drivers, and the best mechanics. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again! And this past weekend, it was proven yet again, when our team of StarTran bus and van operators and mechanics took home half of all trophies awarded at the Texas State Bus Roadeo, in San Antonio.

Bus Operator Amos Underwood is the overall 2011 Texas State Bus Roadeo Champion; he won first place in the 40-foot bus competition. Bus Operator Tony Payton took second place.

MetroAccess Van Operator Ted Ward took first place in the Paratransit Van competition. Wally Acosta took second place.

MetroAccess Van Operator Ted Ward took first place in the paratransit van competition of the Texas State Bus Roadeo. Part of the competition involves helping a rider in a wheelchair board the van, under the judges’ observation.

Bus Operator Terry Allison took third place in the 35-foot bus competition, and the vehicle maintenance team of Jaime Ayala, Ryan Foley and Phillip O’Neal took third in the maintenance competition.

Capital Metro’s state champions, along with local champions from the agency’s roadeo event held last November, will now advance to national and international competitions, representing Capital Metro and the state of Texas. Continue reading “Capital Metro Bus Operator Amos Underwood Wins Texas State Bus Roadeo”

Roadeo Results!

The smiles of champions: Employees display their trophies after placing in the 2011 Capital Metro Roadeo on Nov. 6. From left: Paul Sarle, Terry Allison, Arthur Murillo, Marcus Wright, Juan Maldonado, Pete Rivera, Tony Payton, Pamela Moore, Amos Underwood.

As Lucy mentioned, we had great weather this weekend (and some phenomenal driving) at Leander Station for the 2011 Capital Metro Roadeo.

Here’s how the results shook out:

Vehicle Maintenance

1st: Phillip O’Neal, Ryan Foley and Jaime Ayala—StarTran, Inc.

MetroAccess Van

1st:  Wally Acosta—StarTran, Inc.
2nd: George Guerra—StarTran, Inc.
3rd: Ted Ward—StarTran, Inc.
4th: Pamela Moore—StarTran, Inc.

35-Foot Bus

1st: Arthur Murillo—StarTran, Inc.
2nd: Juan Maldonado—StarTran, Inc.
3rd: Terry Allison—StarTran, Inc.
4th: Guadalupe Albarado—Veolia Transportation

40-Foot Bus

1st: Porfirio “Pete” Rivera—StarTran, Inc.
2nd: Tony Payton—StarTran, Inc.
3rd: Amos Underwood—StarTran, Inc.
4th: Marcus Wright—StarTran, Inc.

Service Island Competition, 40-Foot Bus

1st: Paul Sarle—StarTran, Inc.


My First Roadeo

A MetroAccess competitor gets ready for the "Offset" challenge.

Saturday morning found me in Leander, wearing my Roadeo T-shirt and cap as I signed in at the Judge’s table. With two other people, I was assigned to the Offset station of the course. This means that the vehicle has to go through a narrow alley of traffic cones, and then turn right and then left to get to the offset alley of cones that is the other half of this one maneuver.

On Saturday, the Offset station was the first one on the course. We had three vehicle classes to judge: MetroAccess, 35-foot buses, and 40-foot buses. Once the starter blew the whistle, the driver moved into the first set of cones.

One judge on each side watched closely to see whether a cone was touched. Sometimes the vehicle got VERY close, but no touch, so judging required paying close attention. Once the vehicle had cleared both sets of cones, the two judges reported which cones had been touched to the recording judge, who marked the official judging sheet. When all of us were sure that it was correct, we handed the sheet to one of the runners, who collected the sheets from each judging station.

It sounds simpler than it was! There were all kinds of situations. Once the bus knocked over one cone that then hit another cone, does that count as one or two? Official answer: only count the cones that the bus touched, so that’s ONE, not two. We were very careful on counting and one making sure that we adjusted the cones to have them exactly the same for every driver.

It is AMAZING what these drivers can do! Many of them touched only one or two cones on the very tight offset course. By the end of the event, we had a lot of evidence that Capital Metro has great drivers for all three vehicle classes. Kudos to them and to the training program, and here’s hoping the weather is that good at the next Roadeo, because I want to do this again.

And next time, I can say “This is NOT my first Roadeo!”

Ed. note: Lucy Galbraith is TOD manager for Capital Metro.

25th annual Capital Metro Roadeo, this weekend

Executive Vice President Elaine Timbes measures the distance on a challenge called the Judgment Stop, at last year's roadeo.

Many of my favorite bus and van operators will compete this weekend at the Capital Metro Roadeo (check the list of competitors behind the jump. Is your favorite on the list?).  The competition allows our talented employees to strut their stuff and hone their technical and customer service skills, and allows all of us a chance to get to know one another as a Capital Metro family.

It’s the best event we do, in my opinion, and I look forward to it every year. It’s open to the public, too, so come on up to Leander Station and help me cheer our guys and gals, on Saturday morning beginning at 8 a.m. Winners are announced at 2 p.m. The competition consists of a challenge course designed to test various driving skills, like the smoothness of the ride, how well you maneuver the bus through tight turns, etc. Continue reading “25th annual Capital Metro Roadeo, this weekend”

More Roadeo

I didn’t win. But I did go up against Arthur Murillo, who is a three-time world champion. That is my consolation prize to myself.

Congratulations, Arthur. I said this to him privately and now publicly.

In April, Arthur will compete for the International Title in Cleveland, Ohio. I talked with him Monday and I can report he is cautiously optimistic at this time. “Like I told you, Leo, you’ve got to think positive. You have to say to yourself, ‘I can win this.'”

If you have Arthur as your driver (he drives the 300 route), say congratulations to him and wish him well on the International Competition.

Roadeo Round-Up

Arthur Murillo, Ted Ward, StarTran General Manager Terry Garcia Crews, Pete Rivera, Abdelkader Tenouri, Interim President/CEO Doug Allen.

The Capital Metro Roadeo wrapped up yesterday in Leander, and some of my favorite bus operators competed in three categories: Paratransit Vans, 35-Foot Bus, and 40-Foot Bus. In the Big Shoot-Out, Scott “T-Bone” Lansing, general manager of First Transit, took first place.

All the winners, and more photos, behind the cut. Continue reading “Roadeo Round-Up”