Duane Anderson, a RIDES driver from Storm Lake, recently competed in the Iowa Public Transit Association Roadeo in Mason City. Anderson drives the the a.m. taxi route for RIDES in the city and is a favorite among co-workers and riders.
"Duane is loved by everybody and everyone just seems to have nothing but praise. He is a favorite of the area," Tom Rutt, Operations Supervisor for RIDES, said. "He is a humble guy and a great guy."
It was Anderson's second year in the competition. He started competing after being asked at a banquet where he received the driver of the year award for his district. He is hoping to be able to compete in the Roadeo again next year to break the top three.
Anderson competed in the mini bus division against 22 other drivers statewide. A 10-station course of obstacles is set up; drivers are tested and timed on how well they can perform tasks that are part of their everyday routines.
"I did do some practice here in town but a lot of it is things we do driving every day," Anderson said. "The distances were just tighter (on the driving course)."
For example, tasks included pulling up to the curb at a bus stop closely flanked by parked cars; making left and right turns in narrow lanes that might be created by parked cars along a route; stopping short of an obstacle; and backing into parking stalls.
The last event of the competition challenges all the senses of the drivers tested as they move the bus 35 miles per hour through turns and have to pull up to curb within narrow margins - neither too far away or too near.
"A lot of tasks are things drivers are expected to do every day," Rutt added. "It's just knowing the drivers are being watched and timed while doing it [that makes it difficult]."
Anderson said he wasn't as nervous going into the competition as he was last year. He knew what to expect on the course and finds it to be a lot of fun. Anderson's regular riders and co-workers have congratulated him and supported him through the competition.
The drivers that place first are invited to compete in a national event - an experience Anderson would love to have one day.
"There are a lot of good drivers in the state. I'm really proud about my placing and I'm looking forward to doing it again next year," Anderson added.