Passenger bus drivers compete on downtown obstacle course

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(Source: Chris Regnier, Twitter)

ST. LOUIS (KPLR) – “Hail to the bus driver, bus driver man.”

A downtown St. Louis parking lot was transformed Tuesday into an obstacle course for some of the nation’s top luxury charter bus drivers.

The inaugural United Motorcoach Association International Driver Competition is being held near Busch Stadium. The competition is part of the United Motorcoach Association Expo going on this week at America’s Center.

Twenty-six drivers tested their skills on the course, maneuvering around in 45-foot long buses and performing parallel parking drills.

Event organizers and drivers involved in the skills competition said sitting behind the wheel of a big bus is a big responsibility.

“Our drivers routinely see challenging maneuvers when they’re navigating, particularly in downtown in hotel districts and restaurants, historic sites, and what have you,” said Ken Presley, Vice President of Industry Relations and COO for the United Motorcoach Association.

Bruce Robertson, a Belleville resident who drives for Caseyville-based Vandalia Bus Lines, said the biggest challenge he faces involves unwanted passengers.

“Probably the biggest challenge is when you’re in the bigger cities is finding places to pull over and let people out without getting a ticket,” he said.

The drivers also completed a written test Monday as part of the competition. The top three drivers will be honored at a banquet Tuesday evening.