Q&A with Howard Yoder, COTA Bus Operator

Emily Thompson
Howard Yoder is a COTA bus operator and a member of the organization's first-ever grand champion team at this year's International Bus Roadeo.

Any crazy on-the-job stories? I did have a guy who, he and a lady got in an argument. When she went to get off the bus, she started cussing him out, and I was like, "Ma'am, please just step off the bus," you know. Here, I looked in the mirror, and he had a cane and he pulled a sword out [of the cane]. And I said, "Sir, you can't be doing that." I called the radioer and told them. So they met me at Broad and High, and I don't know what they did with it. But my supervisor was there, and I think the police got involved.

Tell me about the 2015 International Bus Roadeo in Fort Worth, Texas. We're there about four or five days. On Saturday, I have a practice day, and the mechanics gotta do some things. And then Sunday is the competition.

What do you do for the competition? You gotta do a pre-trip on the bus; you gotta find eight defects and then a suspicious package. And this year, it was underneath the back seat. And all it was, was an envelope. But anymore, they can put a bomb in an envelope. It's crazy. You have seven minutes to find all these defects. They have a cone setup, and you gotta [drive] through there without hitting the cones. You can't even rub up against it; you can't touch that cone.

What was winning the grand championship like? I got second for driving, and the mechanics took sixth. It was so tight that, between us, we had the best combination score. We never even dreamed of being No. 1. And then they said, "And for the grand champions, we're only gonna say two letters: O-H." (Laughs.) That was so cool. We fell out of our chairs; we were beside ourselves. They couldn't even hardly get us lined up to get a picture. And it's like the Oscars there. There were probably a thousand people in that room.

Little-known facts about Howard Yoder

Yoder was a member of COTA's first-ever grand champion team at this year's International Bus Roadeo.

His bus has been rear-ended more than 10 times in his 23 years at COTA.

In his spare time, Yoder restores old tractors and farm implements.