LATHAM, N.Y. — The New York School Bus Contractors Association (NYSBCA) announced the top finishers in the 45th annual New York State School Bus Safety Competition, held on Saturday at Rockland Lake State Park in Valley Cottage.
“It was an honor to host the 45th annual New York State School Bus Safety Competition, the largest and only statewide competition of its kind in New York,” said NYSBCA President Mike Martucci. “It was a fantastic day of competition and the drivers from school districts and private school bus contractors who competed were all outstanding, each one demonstrating knowledge and skills that went far beyond those of your average driver.”
More than 100 drivers took part in the competition. Each competed in a specific school bus division, from large (Type C and D) buses to smaller (Type A) buses.
The day began with a comprehensive written exam on school bus safety. Throughout the afternoon, drivers tested their skills in a variety of hands-on driving situations, including: vehicle inspections, loading and unloading students, operating a school bus through various driving courses, managing railroad crossings, and more.
Here are this year’s winners in each category:
Conventional Bus (Type C):
1st: Michael Murray – First Student Inc., Valley Central
2nd: Yvonne Billings – Durham School Services, Troy
3rd: Rigoberto Llera – Suffolk Transportation Service
4th: Janel Francis – Durham School Services, Troy
5th: Doris Farino – Suffolk Transportation Service
Small Bus/Van (Type A):
1st: Geoffrey Roan – Educational Bus Transportation, Copiague
2nd: Rich Tunstall – WE Transport/Towne Bus
3rd: Patricia Benardello - WE Transport
4th: Richard Heaney – Nassau BOCES
5th: Charmain Kanhai-Noronha – Suffolk Transportation Service
Transit (Type D):
1st: Manny Beltran – Croton-Harmon Schools
2nd: Eli Diaz – WE Transport/Towne Bus
3rd: Daniel Farley – Quality Bus Service
4th: Kayla Burlingame – Quality Bus Service
5th: John Forte – Chestnut Ridge Transportation
Rookie of the Year:
Rich Tunstall, WE Transport/Towne Bus
“While the drivers who finished at or near the top are truly the best in the state and set the standard for all other drivers to follow, the competition’s biggest winner is student safety,” Martucci said. “All the drivers who competed bring increased safety knowledge and higher levels of driving skill back to their school districts and school bus contractors. The competition makes for better bus drivers and leads to an even safer ride for the kids they bring to school and back every day.”
The winners of the competition are now eligible to compete in the School Bus Driver International Safety Competition in Greensboro, North Carolina, on July 16 and 17.