June 10, 2014 2:41 pm

Edmontonians put their bus driving skills to the test

EDMONTON – The annual Edmonton transit skills competition at Northlands saw media and city councillors get behind the wheel on Tuesday morning.

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Morning News anchor Shaye Ganam, Global Sports reporter John Sexsmith, and city councillors Micheal Oshry and Andrew Knack were among the rookies who stepped up to the challenge.

They navigated a 40-foot long City of Edmonton transit bus through an obstacle course full of pylons, barrels, signs and human judges.

“It’s gigantic,” Ganam said. “The wheels are actually behind you, which is completely foreign if you’re used to driving a car.”

It’s harder than it looks, according to Edmonton Transit System Bus Operations Supervisor Garth Hurl. He used to compete, but now judges the competition. Hurl says the most challenging part is backing up without hitting any barrels.

“You’re trying to make that three-point turn around and that’s the hardest. When I started, we had a window in the back, so at least you could see it. Now you don’t have the window, so you go to look at your mirrors to see where you are.”

“There’s some tricks to the trade here,” said ETS ‘Roadeo’ Master Linda Kadatz.

The bus competition is held in conjunction with the two-day City of Edmonton ‘Civic Roadeo.’

About one hundred ETS operators will test their driving skills and knowledge. The friendly competition is designed to encourage good performance and professionalism, while building camaraderie among co-workers.

In addition to bragging rights, the winner moves onto the next level.

“You get to go on and compete in the international Roadeo, which is held down in the States. This year is will be in Austin, Texas.”

The competiton’s reigning champion is Larry Waselenchuk. He’s been with Edmonton transit for 37 years and has competed in the skills competition 30 times. Waselenchuk has won the national championship eight times, and last year, at the international competition, came in seventh place out of 53 North American teams.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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