Clallam bus driver to vie on ‘Roadeo’

PORT ANGELES — Clallam Transit driver Larry Estes will compete on the state level in August after winning first place in the 35-foot division in the Olympic Peninsula Regional Roadeo.

Estes will compete against drivers from throughout the state at the 2012 Washington State Public Transportation Roadeo, set Aug. 25-26 at the King County Metro Safety & Training Facility in Tukwila.

During the Peninsula Roadeo, which was held June 24 at the Clallam Transit bus yard in Port Angeles, Clallam Transit driver Bruce Monroe took second place, and Jefferson Transit driver Lloyd Eisenman took third in the 35-foot division.

In the van division, Darrell Finley of Jefferson Transit took first place, while Mason Transit driver Dan Baasch won second, and third place was claimed by Jessica Lee of Dungeness Line, operated by Olympic Bus Lines.

Clallam Transit, Jefferson Transit, Mason County Transportation Authority, Grays Harbor Transit and Dungeness Line drivers participated in this year’s Peninsula competition.

Obstacle course

The drivers maneuvered 35-foot buses through tracks that simulate problems that bus drivers can experience.

The tracks can have as little as half an inch of clearance.

At the bus Roadeo, these “cowboys” are sent through a seven-minute cone course in which they must go through 11 problems.

These problems include such activities as making a right turn, making a left turn and stopping at a bus stop.

The purpose of the track is to test the drivers’ skills and teach safety, Clallam Transit operations manager Clint Wetzel said.

It’s a training tool that provides safety to the community, he said.

For the last problem, 55-gallon barrels were set up to give buses 2 inches of clearance on either side.

The buses had to drive between the barrels for 100 feet, then stop within 6 inches of a cone.

The drivers entered this track coming out of a left turn at 20 miles per hour.

The winner of the regional Roadeo was the driver that got through the track within seven minutes and hit the fewest cones.

For each second that a driver takes over seven minutes to complete the course, a point is added to the score.

“You can see how it adds up quickly,” Wetzel said.

Points also were added for each cone hit.

The cones have different values: 5, 10 and 25 points.

Eisenman was chosen last year to represent Washington at the international competition, which includes drivers from the United States and Canada.

He won second place at the international contest in 2008 and took first place in the 2010 state contest.

Clallam Transit has had a driver who placed third in the international competition, said Wetzel.

“We are pretty competitive,” he said.

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