The life of some buses aren’t too fun now that the hybrids have arrived
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
I can remember when I arrived in Glenwood Springs from my birthplace in Georgia. Everyone loved me. They gave me the special name, “Snowflake,” and I was featured in the local paper as the new Ride Glenwood Springs bus. I rolled up and down the town’s streets, stopping and starting as my driver instructed, feeling humans struggle up and stagger down my mighty stairs. I quickly learned from the older buses how lucky I was to serve in a valley that so prized public transit. They told me many places in America had no buses at all. I fully expected to earn my stripes as a tough Roaring Fork Valley mountain bus.
But the stripes never appeared. And two years later I spend my days and nights parked out of sight behind the West Glenwood Springs bus barn. It’s been weeks since anyone’s taken me out.
How did it happen, this fall from grace?
Much as I’d like to blame humans, I can’t. True, they bought me because I was cheap at the time. They didn’t realize that all the stopping and starting and potholes and curbs would prove so hard on my various parts that they’d fail. They didn’t know when they bought me that their riders would not be impressed by my lofty stairs or the rockiness of my ride or the fact my destination sign didn’t work so nobody except the driver knew where I was headed.
No, instead I’ve tended to blame the big macho buses. In particular that RFTA Bus #586. He’s boasted to me how he can speed up and down the Roaring Fork Valley with 57 passengers without ever having to slow down unless his driver tells him to. He thinks I’ll be impressed with his low floors, his comfortable cloth-covered adjustable seats, his ability to reach every bus stop on schedule and the fact that the mountains in Aspen and Snowmass are like anthills to him. What a loudmouth!
The other day I had dozed off when a call came in to my boss, Justin Harris. He came running out the back of the barn with a driver. “Snowflake’s the only one we can count on!” he told the driver, who climbed in and started my engine. Justin slapped my side, I backed up, curved around the bus barn and took off. The driver told me, “There’s a crowd of freezing humans waiting in an ice storm in Aspen and all the other buses are unavailable. It’s up to you, Snowflake!”
At this, I felt all my cylinders rev up. Together with the driver I sped up the valley, 42 miles at 65 mph. Cars were stranded in the snow on either side of Route 82. People in wool hats and puffy jackets were standing to either side, shouting, “Go, Snowflake!” On I rushed. In the distance, stranded on the side of a snowy mountain, I saw a crowd of humans shivering. Most of them had given up hope, but one girl looked up and saw me racing up the valley. “It’s Snowflake!” she cried. “She’s come to save us!” All the shivering people began waving.
Then a dog started barking and I felt my door open and I woke up. It had all been a dream. All except the dog, who a couple of humans helped into the bus and lifted into my driver’s seat. She put her canine paws on my steering wheel. What ignominy!
But all is not lost. This afternoon RFTA Bus #586 appeared from around the barn and parked next to me. The driver climbed out and disappeared. It’s now dark night, snow has begun to fall, and we’re alone back here.
“Why are you here?” I finally ask #586.
“Hybrids!” he bursts out. “It’s not fair! I dare any bus that runs on stupid electricity to a race. I’ll roll right over ’em. I’ll squash ’em like a bug.”
He raves on, “They’ve brought two of those smarty-pants hybrids down from Aspen to try out here in Glenwood Springs. They say they won’t pass gas like we do. Big deal. How will humans even know it’s a bus if it’s not rumbling at the stops and turning diesel fuel into pollution?”
“Don’t blow a gasket!” I tell him. But I know how he feels. The humans at RFTA and the ones who run the City of Glenwood Springs ” all they think about is what’s good for humans. Cleaner air, less pollution, more comfortable seats, better gas mileage, faster and more frequent service. All they care about is having more people who want to use public transportation so the streets will be less crowded and the planet will cool down.
“I refuse to be broken into scrap metal before my time!” #586 thunders. He shakes with fury.
“They won’t scrap you, they’ll sell you,” I tell him. Maybe we’ll be sold together, I think, to one of those towns that doesn’t have any buses at all, where the humans have to walk in the rain or drive cars that slide on ice.
As the snow mounts on my roof, I let myself dream. The people of the new town will greet us joyfully … we’ll be given names … they’ll write articles about us in the local papers.
I turn to #586. “Don’t worry,” I tell him. “Tomorrow is another day.”
Ann MacLeod is a resident of Basalt; her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. The Web site http://www.gogreenbasalt.org, created by the environmental group Go Green Basalt, has recycling and composting information for the entire valley.
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