Coming from the ‘burbs of Richmond, Va., I must admit that on most days, Boulder’s public transit system is more than agreeable.
Like many University of Colorado students, I take the bus to campus daily, and during breaks and holidays, the AB bus to Denver International Airport has become my best friend. Most days, I have no qualms about paying the annual $72 tacked on to my tuition bill, as the RTD bus pass more than pays for itself throughout the year.
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Most days, the system executes with ease and precision, and the drivers are rather amiable. These are the good days.
But on others, that bronze army of bus drivers can make your life a living hell. I can’t help but wonder if the captains of the S.S. RTD realize how much power they hold in the daily lives of their riders.
In order to make it to my 8 a.m. class comfortably, I’ve learned to leave my house at precisely 7:15 a.m. On the days in which I’m running just a few minutes late, I’ve also learned that a measly five minutes can turn out to be the kiss of death.
The schedule set forth by RTD claims to send a bus my way every 8 minutes, on the dot. Unfortunately, this could not be further from the truth, and I’ve finally come to grips with the fact that I, the commuter, am at the mercy of the driver.
Leaving five minutes late means watching that early bus fly by, as I become dust in the wind. It also means another 10, hopefully not 15, minutes standing out in the cold, cursing myself for hitting that damn snooze button. A chain of events has been set forth, and worrying about missing that early bus means that I don’t have my pass out and ready for the next driver.
Thus, being unprepared for the next driver results in a warm greeting: “Just come on, I don’t have time for this. I guess you were never a member of the Girls Scouts, were ya!”
And my day of commuter hell has officially commenced.
I miss my connecting bus, and as a result, I get shafted with another uneasy driver. This time my fellow commuter is at the mercy of the driver’s relentless patronization. He has committed dual crimes: not only is he unable to find his pass hidden within the depths of his seemingly bottomless wallet, but he is also unwilling to take the driver’s antagonism as passively as I.
Verbal disagreements ensue, the commuter is asked to step off the bus, and the victorious captain proclaims, “Next stop Pleasant… unlike the last!”
I tug the chord and eagerly hop off the bus. I run to class and grab a seat just as the PowerPoint turns on.
These are the bad days, the days in which RTD is far from its finest. These are the days in which I have to wonder, why be in the service industry if you seem so averse to serving the public? These are the days that I think those drivers, laden with their tawny suits of armor, forget how much the little rows can leave the biggest wakes.
Abby Faires is a student at the University of Colorado.