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First time for Everything at Annual Rail Rodeo

Kristin Geiger
Press Officer

From train rides to equipment displays to games and competition, there was something for everyone at the Authority's Annual Rail Rodeo.

Market-Frankford, Broad Street and Regional Rail Line operators, engineers, conductors and yard motorpersons faced off in a friendly but fierce competition. After completing a series of written and hands-on tests, first, second and third place winners were announced for the operator and maintenance events.

"I can't believe it!" Sharon Mapp, a SEPTA Broad Street Line Operator exclaimed. "We really did it!" Mapp quickly embraced her teammate, fellow Broad Street Line Operator and husband Adrian "Sonny" Mapp. Together, they raced to claim their trophy. The Mapp's won first place in the Operators Competition at SEPTA's 2012 Rail Rodeo. Although the Mapp's aren't the only husband and wife team to compete in the rail rodeo, they are the first husband and wife team to win first place in the operator competition. Both have been SEPTA Employees for over 15 years and will represent SEPTA at the 2013 International Rail Rodeo Competition.

The following teams were also declared winners:


Broad Street Line Operator, Terraine Haynes, an 11-year SEPTA employee was awarded second place and Regional Rail Engineer Larry Ryan, a 33-year SEPTA employee, received third place recognition.


Hailing from Fern Rock Maintenance Facility, Rail Vehicle Machinist 1st Class Rob Brooks, a 26-year employee, Rail Vehicle Machinist 1st Class Don Gabel and Rail Equipment Maintainer 1st Class Don Chakov won the first place trophy.

Overbrook Maintenance Facility Mechanic 1st Class Lamar Graham, a 17-year employee, Roberts Yard Electronic Specialists Jeff Thompson, a three-year employee, and Nick Baldassarre, a four-year employee were awarded second place.

From the Wayne Electric Car shop, Mechanical Specialist Ed Caruthers, a seven-year employee, Mechanic of the 2nd Class Corey Reed, an 18-year employee and Electronic Specialist Shawn Ryan, an eight-year employee received third place recognition.

While SEPTA employees competed for bragging rights, family and friends were able to travel along the Broad Street Line during the operators' competition, ride a new Silverliner V, participate in equipment demonstrations, and view model train displays as children played various games.

Authority employees who didn't have an opportunity to compete in the two rail events could flaunt their singing skills in the annual SEPTA Idol Contest. For the third year, SEPTA versions of "Randy", "Paula", "Simon" and special guest "Steven Tyler" scored contestants on their overall performance, vocal abilities and appearance. This year's winner Ernest Wilson, a welder and 2nd class rail maintainer from the Courtland Utility Shop, is the first male to ever win the competition. He blew away the crowd and judges with his amazing acappella version of Earth, Wind, And Fire's "I write a Song of Love." Wilson will continue performing at several SEPTA events throughout the year.

Employees, Yvette Farlow from the Frankford District and Theresa Bryant from the Elmwood District showcased their supreme singing skills, reminding everyone why they are the 2011 and 2010 SEPTA Idols.

Employees weren't the only winners that day. Sixty rail fans were selected through a special lottery to attend the rodeo. Traveling from points near and far, each rail fan seemed to enjoy the behind-the-scenes experience. Many have said they're already looking forward to next year.

"I would like to thank all of our committee members and volunteers who work hard to make this event happen each year," Rail Rodeo Committee Chair Jack Lauser said. "At one point I looked at the crowd and said WOW! This was by far the most people we've ever hosted at the event."

The committee and other SEPTA staff won't be able to rest for long. Preparations are already underway for 2013 when the Authority will host the local event and the 2013 International Rail Conference and Rail Rodeo at the Fern Rock Maintenance Facility in Philadelphia.

SEPTA Press Officers Heather Redfern and Kristin Geiger register rail fans at the 2012 Rail Rodeo.

A young rail fan poses in front of a SEPTA robot created from working spare parts.

First place Operators' competition winners, Adrian "Sonny" Mapp and wife Sharon Mapp pose with Rail Rodeo Committee Chair Jack Lauser.

Rail Rodeo attendees take turns operating a public address system display while SEPTA employees explain how the different types of equipment on display keep the Authority moving.

Pictured left to right: Chief Surface Transportation Officer Michael Liberi, 2012 SEPTA Idol Ernest Wilson and Assistant General Manager of Operations Ronald Hopkins take a photo after the Idol Competition.