National RTAP News

Arizona Rural and Tribal Transit Roadeo

Arizona Rural and Tribal Transit Roadeo

At the Radisson Fort McDowell in Arizona, it was a day of firsts.  It was the opening day of on-site registration for the 1st Technical Assistance and Tribal Transit Program Conference, a first time event hosted by the National Rural Transit Assistance Program in partnership with the Federal Transit Administration and the National Tribal Transit Association.  It was also the first time that an Arizona state rural transit roadeo was hosted in conjunction with a national tribal transit roadeo.  Lastly, but for some most noticeably, it was the first time in several months that it rained and the first time in several years that it hailed in this area of Arizona.  Armed with umbrellas, ponchos and hats, volunteer judges, 22 drivers and a handful of loyal spectators took to the course.

To the untrained eye, the parking lot was a mess of orange cones and construction barrels.  For the competitors of the Arizona Rural Transit Division and Tribal Transit Division, however, it was their driving route for the morning.  For some, the rain and hail was reminiscent of the weather at home, but for others it caused driving conditions that they do not encounter on a daily basis.  Volunteer judges huddled to keep scoring sheets dry and looked to the sky with first confusion, then amusement, when the rain turned to hail.  Dan Harrigan from the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) and the Master of Ceremonies for the event, reported that “Bernice Tullie from NAIPTA, Flagstaff had no problem handling the conditions and took first place, dethroning two time champion Shawn Silas from the Hopi Transit.”  Winning the National Tribal Transit Division division was William Jesse, of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation in Okmulgee, Oklahoma. 

The evening ended with a (dry) celebratory dinner and awards ceremony.  The contestants, judges, and their guests enjoyed a great meal and winners were awarded trophies by Jim Holman, Grand Marshal of the Roadeo.  Gifts cards for all six winners were generously donated by Auto Safety House, a fleet solutions provider whose corporate headquarters is based in Phoenix.  In addition to their trophies and gift cards, the two first-place winners will be sponsored by ADOT and National RTAP for a trip to Baltimore, MD in May 2012 to compete in the national paratransit roadeo that will be held as part of the Community Transportation Association of America’s (CTAA) annual EXPO.  

“The 2012 Arizona Rural and Tribal Transit Roadeo was quite a challenge.  Not only did the participants have to navigate the obstacle course, but Mother Nature also threw them a curveball,” said Dan Harrigan, but “the Roadeo is an important training tool and a reward for the hard work the drivers do all year long.”  While the weather throughout the day may have been dark and gloomy, the sense of camaraderie was anything but.

Many thanks to Dan Harrigan, Jim Holman, Lee Bigwater and Barbara Curtis of Navajo Transit System, and the volunteer judges for all their work in adverse conditions to ensure a successful roadeo that was enjoyed by all, despite the weather.

Roadeo winners:
Arizona Rural Transit Division
First place:  Bernice Tullie, Northern Arizona Intergovernmental Public
Transportation Authority (NAIPTA)
Second place:  Shawn Silas, Hopi Senom Transit
Third place:  Patrick Marquez, Aho Transportation
National Tribal Transit Division
First place:  William Jesse, Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Okmulgee, Oklahoma
Second place:  Otis Mingo, Choctaw Transit System, Choctaw , Mississippi
Third place:  Jeff Iceman, Red Lake Transit, Redlake, Minnesota

Jim Holman, Grand Marshal of the Roadeo, gives instructions to drivers before the event.


Roadeo contestant performs his pre-trip inspection.


Volunteer judges tried to keep themselves and score sheets dry using rain jackets, ponchos and umbrellas.


Roadeo contestant navigates the wet course.


Roadeo judge counting the cones and tallying the score.