The Hall of Fame Inductee for 2022 is Robert (Bobby) E. Westbrook. Bobby’s dedication to the transit industry began in Jackson, MS in 1979. Bobby worked his way up the ladder, ending up as Maintenance Director before leaving for Raleigh, NC to serve as Maintenance Director and Executive Director at Capital Area Transit. By 1991, Bobby had made his way to Tallahassee and made a tremendous impact on public transit during his 31 years at the Florida Department of Transportation:
- Created the Maintenance Training program and the Florida Maintenance Consortium which today is called TMAARC. In the early days Maintenance Directors across the state would gather quarterly to review training classes, select training contractors, and discuss fleet issues.
- Initiated the Florida Mechanics Roadeo in 1992. In 1998, when the FPTA expressed concerns with having both a maintenance and operations roadeo annually, Bobby came up with a plan to combine the events with a steering committee consisting of a maintenance and operations representative from each property. This group organized the event, set the rules and handled logistics. In 2011, Bobby offered to combine the event with the Florida RTAP Roadeo, creating today’s Triple Crown Roadeo. Not one to rest on his laurels, by 2018 Bobby had created a para-transit technician competition category.
- Created the Florida Operations Network, followed several years later by the Florida Transit Safety Network. Bobby combined the two networks and handed off their management to Victor Wiley, Ashley Porter, and Tony Brandin.
- Developed the first regional transit training center at Votran. He then expanded that vision to include supporting training facilities at LeeTran, PSTA, and Gainesville RTS.
- Assisted in the development of the first statewide vanpool program in 1995.
- Managed the State Bus Fleet. The State Bus Fleet leased vehicles to new transit systems as they got started. State Bus Fleet vehicles were used all over Florida in the mid-90s. As the need for the fleet waned, Bobby turned the program into a vehicle technology demonstration program.
- Developed first state procurement contracts for all vehicles except the 12-year heavy duty coach in 1995. This initial contract led to the creation of the FVVP and the TRIPS programs. Completed the first multiple award contract which is now the standard in Florida.
- Used state bus fleet vehicles to assist with recovery after Hurricane Opal. This led to the creation of FDOT’s Transit Emergency response team in 2004 when 5 storms crisscrossed Florida. Standardized emergency response efforts, developed transit MOUs, coordinated resources delivery including drivers and buses, and ensured all transit systems had access to emergency management training and their county EOCs.
- Worked with the FSU-FAMU College of Engineering to develop a transit vehicle safety standards and testing program. This effort developed finite element vehicle models of paratransit buses so standards could be developed for Florida vehicle contracts. These standards are now a big part of all contract specifications.
- Created Transit Managers Training Program to prepare future Operations and Maintenance Directors for future leadership roles.
- And, provided technical assistance to JTA in the development of the most recent 12-year heavy duty bus multiple awards contracts.
Bobby Westbrook has been a true asset to our industry for many years.