Newspaper reporters make excellent bus drivers.
I learned this late Tuesday afternoon after BC Transit sent out a press release declaring the winner of the inaugural BC Transit Media Roadeo.
Unfortunately I didn’t take the title—Don Plant of the Daily Courier earned that honour—but I came second, achieving a better score than Kelowna Mayor Walter Gray, Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, Kelowna-Mission MLA Steve Thomson and a handful of radio hosts and broadcast journalists.
Earlier that day, myself and eight other contestants faced a daunting five-part obstacle course at the Cook Road boat launch parking lot.
With my driving instructor Dave Driedger by my side, I made a hard right turn, drove through narrow track of tennis balls, made a sharp left turn, parked at a simulated bus stop, backed into a parking stall and then slammed the brakes in an accelerated stop.
I may or may not have hit a few pylons along the way.
After completing the final obstacle—stopping 12 feet short of my target—I realized I have a new appreciation for bus drivers.
Meredith Burton, corporate spokesperson for BC Transit, said the media roadeo was a mixture of fun, awareness and education.
“Many people think that driving a bus is a pretty simple job…it’s very complex,” said Burton.
“Can you imagine if you had 70 passengers on board, people ringing for you to stop and cars darting out in front of you?
“I think it’s one of those unsung hero jobs.”
Burton drew a few conclusions as she watched each contestant tackle the obstacle course, behind the wheel of a 40-foot, $500,000 vehicle.
“For the most part, I found the media were more aggressive; the elected officials were very timid.”
Kelowna’s media roadeo was the largest ever hosted by BC Transit. Burton said there is a possibility it could become an annual event.
If so, participating print journalists will have gold and silver reputations to uphold.