Dial-A-Ride drivers place third in state competition

DOWNEY – A team of Downey transit drivers placed third in the All-State Paratransit safety rodeo, a competition where drivers from across California test their safety and driving skills against other transit organizations. Primitivo Figueroa (19 years of service) and Jose Espinoza (three years of service) finished third behind first-place City of Sacramento and second-place Victory Valley Transit Authority.

Figueroa and Espinoza are both full-time transit drivers for Downey's Dial-A-Ride program.

Contestants were judged on their pre-trip inspection of the bus, wheelchair loading and securement, smoothness of operation, and a driving skills course that included 11 challenging exercises.

The rodeo is held at various locations throughout California every year. This year, it was held in Hesperia.

To qualify for the competition, drivers must have a valid California B class driver's license to operate a 22-ft. cutaway 15-or-more passenger bus, and since Feb. 1, 2011 have a clean record with no chargeable/avoidable accidents, and not have had a suspension, any disciplinary action or more than three unauthorized absences.

Downey's Dial-A-Ride program "maintains a high standard level of safety and skilled staff who participate in monthly safety meetings and trainings throughout the year," city transit officials said. "Placing third in this rodeo without practice or preparation for this event represents the level of skill of our (Dial-A-Ride) drivers."