After 40 years behind the wheel, champion driver Anthony Griffith is shifting into a new role.
“I love the physical act of driving the bus,” said Griffith, who is ramping up his transportation consulting company, A.W. Griffith Transportation Consulting.
The longtime New York City transit bus operator is retiring and plans to spend more time in the motorcoach industry. He wants to give back to the industry that has given him so much.
His experience, he says, includes winning 35 driving competitions and helping to train more than 3,000 drivers.
“I do old-school training, where it is more fundamentals and foundational training with hands-on driver techniques,” Griffith said. “We train for all the new technologies, but when are we going to train for when all those new technologies fail? So that means that we have to go back to fundamentals. New technology needs to be an enhancement of our own skills.”
He credits his success to his attitude. He’s constantly striving to be a better driver.
“The first thing you have to understand is driving is a skill and not a job. if you look at it as a skill, then you take that to another level because you want to learn as much as you can.”
Longtime UMA member
A longtime member of the United Motorcoach Association, Griffith is a regular attendee at UMA Motorcoach EXPO.
“UMA EXPO is an opportunity to network,” he said. “You’re able to do learning constantly because of the educational sessions. You are surrounded by people who have the most knowledge in the industry, so you are going to learn something from them.”
Griffith received the UMA Safety Award, and was part of the first class of Master Drivers in 2017. He was also a major contributor to the book and program, “The Bus Athlete,” according to Ken Presley, vice president, Legislative & Regulatory Affairs & Industry Relations/COO.
During his 40 years with the New York City Transit Authority (MTA), he drove routes in all of the city’s five boroughs. He also drove school buses and motorcoaches on his days off.
“I’ve worked for many different motorcoach companies, going back and forth to Atlantic City. I’ve done charters all over the country,” Griffith said.
He has had the opportunity to test electric buses for the past 2 1/2 years.
“I’ve been pretty much exclusively driving the hybrid and all-electric buses. I’ve been assisting and making some changes to those and making them more driver-friendly and driver-adaptive,” said Griffith. ‘There are different challenges to driving them, but that can be addressed with education and training.”
Griffith believes electric buses and motorcoaches are the future.
“It’s going to take some bolstering of the infrastructure, but once that’s done, then electric is going to be the way to go,” he said.
Driving an electric vehicle has a lot of advantages.
“With electric and hybrid electric buses, there’s no emission at all. There are no fumes that come out of those buses. You never ever have to shut off the AC. It has heat in the winter and AC in the summer. You never have to worry about the DOT coming to give you an emissions ticket.”
Outside of driving, Griffith’s passion is barbecue. He is a certified judge with the Kansas City Barbecue Society and travels to judge competitions. His dream is to blend his loves by bringing Kansas City barbecue to a UMA Motorcoach EXPO.
“I would like to combine a barbecue competition with EXPO and call it Buses and Barbecue,” he said.
Griffith, who holds the title of New York state champion driver for three years in transit, says he plans to compete in the driving competition at the 2022 UMA Motorcoach EXPO in Long Beach, California.
“I’ve come in second in one of the competitions, so the first place has been elusive,” he said. “It’s the only one that I haven’t won, so my goal is to try to do the absolute best that I can.”