Along for the ride


Posted Sat, Sep 14, 2013

Along for the ride

MILE-HIGH ROUTE: Route 3, runs along Alameda to Centrepoint and Sable. (Photo by Luke Whittaker)

DENVER — It was a little past 7 p.m. when I hopped off the light rail at the Federal Center Station destined for my car in the adjacent lot. I hesitated crossing the road as a bus lumbered into the lot before coming to a stop swinging open the doors in front of me.
“It’ll be 10-15 minutes before we leave,” a man’s voice from inside said.
My intention was to return home; however, curious, I responded:
“Well, where are we going?”
“This is the Route 3, I run along Alameda, from here (Federal Center) down to Centrepoint and Sable,” he said.
As a non-native of Colorado–and new to Denver—public transportation has facilitated my understanding of the layout of the city and allowed me to take notice of things that I’m typically oblivious to while driving. It was as an opportunity to ride along and see a little of the suburbs that I so often miss while paying attention in the traffic in front of me. And so I hopped on. I was the only one on board. I grabbed a seat up front where I could hear the driver, Dave, over the dull rumbling of the engine. Amid the empty bus, we began to speak as we headed east on Alameda.

Along for the ride

DRIVER SEAT: Driver Dave has been behind the wheel for 13 years. (Photo by Luke Whittaker)

For Dave, it’s been 13 years behind the wheel. He had logged 20 years with the telecommunication company US WEST before a merger with QWEST resulted in many long-time employees being laid off. He didn’t anticipate the change, but he’s embraced and made the best of his career.
“It’s typically not this empty,” said Dave after the first few stops along Alameda yielded only two passengers, “but we get some wild ones sometimes. And dealing with the general public can be trying at times.”
Not all routes are created equal. Some route—such as airport routes–garner a lot of business and family travelers eagerly anticipating their destination. Furthermore, much of the route is along open highway making for a few stops and few quarrels. Dave had the route for six years, it was his favorite. Dave’s former route contrasts with many of the downtown and urban routes he currently runs, which typically feature a more heterogeneous mixture of travelers—some young, some elderly, some affluent and some derelict. And with the full array of travelers, he sees a full spectrum of behaviors. Whether it’s fights, drug use or simply skipping fares, he’s unfortunately witnessed a rise in these trends.

Along for the ride

“ALL ABOARD!”: Driver Dave has learned to embrace his route and passengers. (Photo by Luke Whittaker)

“I know they don’t have the man power, but this unpaid fare thing has gotten out of hand,” said Dave, adding that he would like to see enforcement aboard the buses.

Times are tough he contends, acknowledging that many of his downtown passengers are feeling the financial pinch before reflecting that the good he sees still far outweighs the bad. Dave doesn’t know when, or if, his route will change, but he’s learned to embrace the ride.

About Luke Whittaker

Luke Whittaker is a Denver-area freelance writer.

View all posts by Luke Whittaker

4 Responses to “Along for the ride”

  1. Ashley Says:

    I absolutely love the All Aboard shot, as well as the black and white photo at the top. It’s good example of editorial photojournalism 🙂


    • Keve Brockington Says:

      This is a really good post. Your visual aspects flow very well with your story. This also sounds like it was really interesting to experience.


  2. Alla Says:

    Dag nabbit good stuff you whiepersnappprs!


  3. Says:

    As seen in the meeting demos, it’s not like we don’t have the technology to detect traffic issues and reroute.Unbelievable. Are you actually under the impression that Microsoft owns and operates the coach services? Or even oversees them?


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