Conferences and Roadeos
State RTAP Managers organize conferences and roadeos, and often provide scholarships so subrecipients can attend these events as well. Many State RTAP programs hold regular conferences, either on their own or in partnership with other organizations. Most of the time the other organization is a State Transit Association, but it may also include other government entities, other states, non-profits, universities, and vendors. Approximately 27 states host a roadeo, and of those, 75% indicated that they host it in conjunction with other organizations, most often with state transit associations. Some states prefer to partner with a transit agency or non-profit. Conferences are ideal venues for communicating with subrecipients, gathering information about needs (such as training and technical assistance), and reminding subrecipients about the programs and services that the State RTAP program has to offer.
Roadeos are typically held in conjunction with conferences but may also be stand-alone events. Drivers are recognized and rewarded for their performance in front of their supervisors and peers, which can boost morale and help with driver retention. These contests also serve as training opportunities for drivers and maintenance technicians where knowledge can be shared between participants and experts are often on hand to answer questions. Some states have regional roadeos whose winners then compete in state roadeos. State roadeo winners may go on to compete nationally or internationally, in roadeos like the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) International Bus Roadeo. The most common type of roadeo is the traditional bus roadeo, in which drivers compete by driving through a series of obstacles, performing safety checks, and other events such as wheelchair securement. National RTAP has produced the Bus Roadeo Toolkit, a guide to organizing and judging this type of roadeo. National RTAP also published a Best Practices Spotlight Article on Driver Training Best Practices: Bootcamps and Bus Roadeos, with examples of thriving roadeos in Nebraska, Connecticut, and Montana.
Less common is the maintenance roadeo. Arizona, Florida, Washington, Tennessee and other State RTAP programs have held maintenance roadeos, testing maintenance employees’ knowledge of van maintenance, electronics, and equipment diagnosis.
California RTAP recommends having a roadeo over the weekend when drivers are more likely to be available. New Mexico RTAP suggests having special events for drivers. Texas RTAP schedules their roadeo at the beginning of their conference. They have successfully made it a fun, family event through the State Transit Association’s independent funding for additional activities and refreshments.
State RTAP programs typically provide scholarships for rural providers in the state to attend either in-state or out-of-state conferences and roadeos. See the Scholarships section of this toolkit for more information.
Updated April 22, 2021