October 15, 2021 | ACTIVE LIFE | By Jon Lamson | Photo by Rickki Held

Colorado Springs is known for a lot of things: Pikes Peak, Focus on the Family, urban sprawl, trucks with mounted Trump flags, the mechanical bull at Cowboys… but not public transportation. 

Since Colorado College purports to provide students with free city bus passes via their gold cards, could the city buses be yet another underused student resource? How bad could it possibly be?

As a public transport enthusiast and overeager Catalyst reporter, I had to find out for myself. So I set about a simple task: I’d do my weekly King Soopers grocery run, not in my dented 2011 Toyota minivan, but by riding the bus.

It all sounded so simple in my head. 

I set off at 11:40 a.m. on Monday morning with my trusty notebook and an empty backpack and walked to the bus stop at the corner of Uintah and Nevada. There I sat for twenty minutes. No bus. Cars blew by and students gave me odd looks on their way back from class. 

Looking again at the overcomplicated website… “no departures are scheduled for this stop at this time.” Of course. I checked Google Maps, which said it’d be quicker to walk to King Soopers than take the bus anyways. 

It’s time for a change in plans. I’ll try Safeway. Their produce section isn’t nearly as extensive, but I really didn’t have all day here, and it’s just a few blocks down Wahsatch. Really, what’s the worst that could happen? If only I knew. 

Finally, around 12:20 p.m. my great diesel chariot arrived. I stepped onto the bus triumphantly, but to nobody’s surprise, the swipe on my Gold Card didn’t work. But by some miracle I had cash on me, and forked over $5 for a day pass. Goddamnit. 

Now a word to the wise: you MUST request a stop to get off the bus. Otherwise, you’ll end up at the corner of Cascade and Fillmore, right across from your least favorite taco shop in all of Colorado Springs, not closer to the Safeway than when you started. Which is what happened to me. 

So, I burned another twenty minutes and got on a bus heading back south at 12:54 p.m. And by some sort of cosmic joke that I really can’t explain — I’ve put a lot of thought to it and my best guess is divine intervention — it routed away from the expected stop on Weber by the Safeway and I found myself back at the exact stop on the corner of Uintah and Nevada where I started.

It’s at that point when I began to face some serious self-doubt. Is it me? Is it the bus? Should I just give up? Never. My backpack was still empty and I simply could not return home in defeat. 

Finally, my prayers were answered. I boarded a bus heading back up Nevada and reached the promised land at 1:30 p.m. The shopping itself took only a relative moment, and soon I sat back down at a nearby stop on Weber to continue my waiting game. 

And there I waited for another half hour, until I got impatient and started walking with my bag heavy with pork chops, grapefruit juice, and an carton of eggs, only to be passed by a southbound bus just five minutes later. 

The driver either didn’t see me waving or didn’t care. Finally, over three hours after my initial departure, I stumbled through the door of my apartment to the mocking laughter of my roommates. 

The moral of the story? If you need groceries in Colorado Springs, just walk, or take a bike, borrow a skateboard, order an Uber (we live in a devolving capitalist hellscape, you might as well lean into it), call a Safe Ride or Campo, RipStik, roller blade, hoverboard, or whatever. I probably could’ve gotten down on all fours and crawled and it would’ve been a more efficient way to do my shopping. As long as you’ve got literally any other options, don’t take the bus.

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