RTD board members should ride the No. 15 bus route for a week to get perspective

broken-down-bus.jpg
Fares keep going up...
Riding RTD buses, on certain routes, is an awful lot like using my old roommate's microwave oven: It's steamy, filled with food splatter and spittle, smells like armpits, and you just never know what fresh hell you are going to find in there. But the Regional Transportation District's board of directors recently voted to cap the spending for 32 new shuttle buses at $21,147,350, amidst objections from two board members that the new buses might not be worth the price being discussed -- or any price at all.

See also:
- Claudia Folska, Westword cover girl, wins seat on RTD board of directors
- Best Transportation Deal - 2011 RTD Eco Pass
- RTD fare increases are better for everyone: Kenny Be's Worst-Case Scenario

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It's a bird, it's a plane! Nope, it's the mall shuttle.
RTD is considering buying the new buses from DesignLine, a company out of Charlotte, North Carolina, to exchange them for 36 buses that RTD currently operates. Those buses are manufactured by the now-defunct company TransTeq. The current mall shuttles were purchased in 1999 and are having repair/maintenance issues, exacerbated by TransTeq's going out of business and therefore rendering parts harder to come by.

The Denver Post reports that RTD mechanics "have used parts from other vehicles or have gone to an outside shop to keep the shuttles moving." So these buses are a lot like my old Ford Tempo? Broke-ass buses are unlikely to be popular with the folks who ride them every day for work, school or mall recreation.

The two dissenting RTD board members, Natalie Menten and Paul Solano, are asking the board to take a step back from approving any purchases from DesignLine so that they can take time to review the company's records and hopefully assure they aren't buying more broke-ass busses. Menten told the Post: "I have a great concern about this company."

Board member Judy Lubow told the Post that it appeared RTD was rushing into an agreement with DesignLine because it is one of the few companies in the United States that designs mall shuttles."It seems like we are taking who we can get," she said.

However, the same story reports that RTD officials said they've investigated DesignLine and found past problems resolved. And two prototype buses are currently being used on the 16th Street mall that have better maintenance records than the TransTeq vehicles.

As a bus rider myself, I'd probably feel a lot better about the new buses if I had assurance that the board members voting to buy them actually used the bus system in metro Denver and could judge for themselves whether or not they are clunkers -- as well as get some perspective on how accidents and service delays affect the riders.

As a matter of fact, I propose that every RTD board member be required to ride the No. 15 East Colfax Avenue bus route every day for a week -- east or west bound, it doesn't matter which. That particular route (and those particular buses) would offer a productive insight into what I call "The Real-Real RTD Experience."

If they are seriously interested in the transportational fate of actual, consistent RTD customers -- and their fares -- what better way to understand than getting their hands, feet, ankles, arms, legs and occasionally necks dirty on a ride downtown with the unwashed masses? It would be a veritable amusement-park ride, complete with random twists and turns, bus drivers who might be legally insane on a good day and simply malevolent on a bad one, religious nutters spouting various incarnations of the gospels, sullen tweens mad-dogging each other and hookers and homeless folks and all of the above getting high. This, of course, would all be under the blanket aroma of body odor, dried urine and cigarette smoke.

A week's worth of this should produce some perspective, on topics such as how annoying it is to be on a sardine-packed bus under good circumstances, and how possibly getting stuck on a broken-down one might lead to an impromptu reenactment of Les Miserables. I think RTD can make our tax dollars work harder at checking out this new bus-building company -- or maybe buy us all roller skates.





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15 comments
DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

This comment is no longer visible ...

Who or what is deleting user comments from this thread?

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

This comment is no longer visible.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

Who is deleting comments -- from various posters -- in this discussion thread ?

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

Who or what is deleting comments -- from various posters -- in this thread ?

RevBF
RevBF

Some of the below commenters are right. I've ridden Austin, L.A. Philly, N.Y., Seattle, Indy - basically everywhere I go I ride the bus because it's just far easier and cheaper than anything else. That being said I've been a daily RTD rider for well into 13 years now and we've got it real good here. The 15, as odd as it can be at times, isn't so bad. It would be nice to have bigger or more buses to accomodate, but the real hell hole is the 16. West Denverites love their meth and PCP and it's clear that many of them like it far too much. I've seen way more fights and harassment of women on that than anything else. I've seen uniformed police on the 15Ls recently and that seems to do wonders. 

But you are absolutely right. Whomever makes choices needs to actually experience. Perhaps the RTD board can start a forthcoming trend that eventually trickles down to judges actually doing 6 months in the penn before they get to make that choice for anyone else. 

I dig the coverage of RTD. Keep it comin'.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

Jenny, Jenny, Jenny ... don't be Hating on Colfax ... it's what makes Denver a "World Class City" !

Now step off da bus onto the 'fax and shake your money maker ... see how long it takes you to catch a trick.


Will_
Will_

The two new shuttle buses on the Mall are the most poorly designed public transport ever. While there's more space than the current buses to accommodate disabled riders, it seems like less room for all riders because of how the seating and floor space is configured.

BackOffImStarving
BackOffImStarving topcommenter

I don't really care about the quality of the buses.  I wish there were MORE buses so that some routes didn't require waiting around 30 minutes to an hour on some routes or getting stuck at some POS stop for that long for a transfer because one of them arrived too early or too late.  It takes an hour to go ten miles east-to-west between parts of Lakewood and Golden.  Might as well save the fare and ride the bike.  As far as quality and cleanliness goes, we have it pretty good here in Denver.  Ever been on a bus in Philly?  It's gross.  The cleanest bus there is still worse than the dirtiest bus here, and what qualifies as a "busy" bus here doesn't even compare to out east.  I'd say the ratio of RTD rides that leave me pissed off and/or late versus slightly annoyed and slightly late is about 7:1.  

jenna-furrr
jenna-furrr topcommenter

@DonkeyHotay It weren't me--I don't have admin control. Looks like maybe people deleted their own comments?

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter


[ reposting disappeared comment ]

@RevBF  "West Denverites love their meth and PCP and it's clear that many of them like it far too much" 

Word! 

... the HALO surveillance cameras and Denver Police running bicycle enforcement along E. Colfax from Capitol Hill to Colorado Blvd. these past few years has pushed many of the crackheads and tweakers west of I-25 ... or east of Monaco ... where the dope show still rages.

Remember kids -- Crack is Whack ... and Meth is Death!

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@RevBF "West Denverites love their meth and PCP and it's clear that many of them like it far too much"

Word! ... the HALO cameras and DPD running bicycle enforcement along E. Colfax from Capitol Hill to Colorado Blvd. these past few years has pushed many of the crackheads and tweakers West of I-25 ... or East of Monaco.


jenna-furrr
jenna-furrr topcommenter

@DonkeyHotay It would not take long. I've been mistaken for a sex worker before, but none of the mistakers had enough Ched to get my cred, yo.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@BackOffImStarving  ... so buy a car if you don't like waiting a few minutes, or take a cab, or start WALKING toward your destination and catch the bus as it comes by ... giving your fat ass a few less calories of accumulated girth in the process.

You're correct on one thing, anyone who whines and complains about cleanliness or crowds on RTD has NEVER ridden on SEPTIC in Philly or BARF in S.F.  ... makes the Colfax 15 route seem like a day at a pleasure spa.


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