May 2024

METRO Operator Takes on National Bus Roadeo

METRO Operator in blue uniform shirt stands in front of his bus.


Bus Operator Gilberto Torrez starts his day bright and early. He arrives at the West Bus Operating Facility at 3 a.m., gets a cup of coffee (or two), and clocks in for his shift.

A 20-year METRO veteran, Torrez began his journey with the agency during the first year of his marriage.

“I was looking for a better paying job with a pension and great benefits,” said Torrez. “I wanted to start a family and having a great job was my priority.”

Torrez has flourished during his tenure at METRO—winning awards for his safe driving record and dedication to the Authority.

“He’s always punctual, safe and dependable,” said Patricia Samarripa, Torrez’s supervisor. “He’s never had any complaints from the public. If he’s not getting any complaints, he must be doing the right thing out there.”

Gilberto Torrez and West Bus Operating Facility Transportation Superintendent Patricia Samarripa.
METRO Bus Operator Gilberto Torrez and West Bus Operating Facility Transportation Superintendent Patricia Samarripa.

In October 2023, Torrez placed first in METRO’s Bus and Rail Roadeo, a yearly competition allowing employees to showcase their driving and maintenance skills.


The competition also allows participants to improve their safety, customer service, and professional development skills.

After Torrez’s big win here, he began preparing for the American Public Transportation Association’s 2024 International Bus Roadeo in Portland, Oregon.

He worked with a training instructor several times a week for a month and a half before the competition in April.

A blue bus driven by METRO operator Gilberto Torres navigates a driving course.
Torrez navigates a bus through an obstacle course at the National Bus and Rail Roadeo competition on Portland.

Operators from across North America only get one practice run of the bus obstacle course before they are scored on driving and safety. Torrez placed 12th out of 76 bus operators.

“I was like a proud mother. He was among the best of the best out there. I am proud of his accomplishments, but also his overall performance as a bus operator,” said Samarripa.

Torrez plans to keep practicing in the hopes of competing again in the future.

“The competition was stiff. You pretty much have to be perfect when you got to the international competition. Hopefully I can do it again and do better,” he added.

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