MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Driving a bus is hard work. Now imagine doing it on an obstacle course.
Metro Transit drivers do it every year, and the top three advance onto bigger contests. This year there was a first.
Jeanne O’Neill is the first woman to move on to compete in the State Roadeo. Mastering moves like the Serpentine, Off-Street and Rear Dual Clearance make Jeanne a Minnesotan to Meet. The wheels on this 40-foot bus go round because of the feisty red head.
“September is my 14th anniversary with Metro Transit,” said O’Neill.
Now, instead of the open road, she’s on a closed course.
“You get used to the real obstacles that are out there,” said O’Neill. “I wish I could count my points on this one, I actually did pretty well.”
She moves the 50,000-pound bus between cones at the Como Avenue lot near the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. It’s the same place Jeanne competed in the Bus Roadeo last fall.
Jeanne came in with a third place finish.
“I rub it in quite often actually, I’m the Roadeo Princess,” said Jeanne.
That means she got a spot in the State Championships. It’s a first for any Metro Transit female bus driver.
“When you’re No. 1, they can never take that away from you,” said Jeanne. “You can be the second woman to go to state or third, but it doesn’t matter. I was first.”
She enjoys her co-workers and wants to eventually write a book on the people she meets on her route.
“There’s all kinds of different characters out there, no two days are the same,” said Jeanne.
Jeanne’s only focus now is a big win, mainly so she can keep everyone else on their toes.
“They would never hear the end of it at my garage,” said Jeanne. “I would actually ask for my own parking spot at work.”
The state competition was held this weekend in Duluth. Besides driving the bus, Jeanne had to take a written test, pass a safety drill and find and fix a problem that the judge’s come up with on the spot.
Jeanne did not place in the top three at state, but was excited for the experience.