Champion Operator Honored At METRO Board Meeting

December 21, 2005

If you ride METRO routes 5 Kashmere Gardens/Southmore or 77 Liberty/MLK, chances are good that you have met champion bus operator Charlie Kennedy.

A METRO operator for 15 years, Kennedy took second place in this year's International Bus Roadeo in Dallas - beating out 68 other top-notch operators from around the country and Canada. To get to Dallas, Kennedy won first place in the local competition. This is the second time Kennedy has stood on the winner's podium at the international level having taken first place in 2003 in Las Vegas.

To honor Kennedy's accomplishment METRO has assigned him his own bus, which bears his signature and a sign on the side of the vehicle.

METRO's President and CEO Frank Wilson acknowledged Kennedy's most recent accolade in December's meeting of the Board of Directors and presented him with a certificate signed by Houston Mayor Bill White.

"While most of us were busy preparing for Hurricane Rita, Charlie was in route to Dallas to become a hero," said Wilson.

The American Public Transportation Association's (APTA) International Bus Roadeo took place September 22 - 25. The Roadeo competition is designed to test safe bus operating skills. To win the challenging event, Kennedy drove his METRO bus thru several obstacle courses. One of them is set up with two lines of tennis balls only inches apart, and the operator must drive the rear wheels between them. Obstacle courses also address routine operations like the simulated bus stop, where the operator who comes closest to the curb without actually touching it gets the highest rank.

"I learned everything about bus driving here in METRO," said the 15-year veteran operator. Asked about how he honed all his safe driving skills, Kennedy humbly replied: "I have to give all the credit to our training department."