On June 17, the rain held off long enough so transit drivers from colleges and universities across the region could compete in the Collegiate Bus Road’eo which featured a lineup of 100 percent electric shuttle buses. The course was constructed at the Harvard Business School parking area. Sixteen professional drivers, who typically shuttle students, faculty, and staff across their campuses, maneuvered the shuttles through a maze of obstacles including rows of barrels just barely wider than the buses. Drivers also had to navigate through a series of tight s-curves, back their vehicle into tight spots, and finish with a 20 mile-per-hour dash through the barrels, many of which didn’t survive unscathed.
“This Road’eo was the biggest and the best so far,” said Jim Monahan, associate director for Harvard Transit & Fleet Management and the event’s primary organizer. “It was great to see so many new drivers participate and test their skills on the course.” The purpose of the event is for drivers to display their precision driving skills, emphasize the importance of safety, create camaraderie between schools, and have fun. Participating schools included Boston College, Columbia University, Cornell University, Harvard University, University of Massachusetts, University of New Hampshire, and University of Vermont. “In addition, the event would not have been possible without the support of more than 40 employees from across Harvard who volunteered to serve as judges and safety managers, and to support event logistics,” said Director for Transit & Fleet Management David Harris Jr.
The Road’eo began with a beautiful rendition of the national anthem sung by Cambridge Police Deputy Superintendent Pauline Carter-Wells, a moving display from the Harvard University Police Department Honor Guard, as well as driver introductions. Then, one-by-one, the drivers got behind the wheel and maneuvered their way through the obstacles and collected points along the way. In some sections, the goal was to hit as few cones and barrels as possible while in others, get as close to the cones without touching them. Judges were stationed at each challenge, scoring the drivers. The third place finisher was Pat Foote of Cornell University while second place went to Joshua Hughes of the University of New Hampshire. The winner of the event was Sebastian Harder of the University of Massachusetts.
For the first time, this year’s Road’eo utilized only electric shuttle buses. Harvard recently purchased four, battery-based electric buses as part of an aggressive effort to advance solutions for climate change, improve public health, and support the University’s climate goals of becoming fossil fuel-free by 2050 and fossil fuel-neutral by 2026. The 100% electric buses, which have been on the road since 2021, replaced four, bio-diesel powered buses representing more than 30% of Harvard’s bus fleet.