By Cristal Cordova, CALC Youth Advisor
Photos by Aaron Ontiveroz
How can we appreciate our bus drivers and collect data to support better bus service in Denver? Here’s a start:
Find a busy bus stop and set up a tent
Make thank you cards for drivers working during rush hour
Ask people about their experience on the bus
Give out swag
Celebrate bus drivers and riders!
On a cold, snowy evening in February, the Denver Streets Partnership and the Denver Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI) went out to one of the busiest transit stops in downtown Denver during rush hour with yummy cookies and cool swag for bus drivers and riders. We surprised 50 RTD operators with lanyards, gift cards, and punny thank you cards to remind drivers how much we appreciate their hard work!
As a CALC Youth Advisor supporting this event, I walked up to people waiting at the bus stop on 17th & Lawrence St and asked them to take a small survey about their thoughts on the new bus-only lanes on 15th and 17th Sts downtown. I really enjoyed talking to people and hear the different stories of why people need better bus lanes. One of the many reasons I enjoy my work is that I can help people have a better experience using public transit. After hearing all these people share their stories about their frustration about public transit, I agree that we need to dedicate more lanes to buses to keep buses out of traffic and to keep them on time. Not only will bus drivers and riders experience fewer delays, especially around downtown, but bus lanes are a more efficient use of our public space because a bus takes up relatively little street space and about 40 people can ride the bus at a time. That leaves more room for people walking, biking, scooting, and using wheelchairs and strollers to all get around more quickly and safely.
Over about an hour, we surveyed 30 bus riders. 80% of those we surveyed rode the bus nearly every day, 83% said they noticed their bus was faster since the dedicated bus lanes were installed, and 73% said they’d like to see similar improvements on 18th and 19th Sts Downtown.
Despite the cold weather, we couldn’t plan a better week to have the RTD Driver/ Rider Bus Appreciation Event the same week as Transit Equity Day, a nationwide effort to promote public transit as a civil right and a strategy to combat climate change. Thank you, bus drivers for all your hard work to get people around Denver!