Bear Bus keeps a-rollin', all day long

By Denise Dennington

A dirty floor, the stench of lingering cigarette smoke, diesel exhaust, and a hint of perfume fill the nostrils.  The wheels lurch forward; the blue seats are filled with groggy-eyed students headed to morning classes.

The Bear Bus

The Bear Bus serves the University of Northern Colorado. Photo by Denise Dennington

On a frigid February morning, University of Northern Colorado students pile onto the Bear Bus Gold Route of Greeley Evans Transit.  The route runs from 7:45 a.m. until 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, with buses serving stops every eight to 10 minutes.

7:45 a.m., Feb. 9, 2011, The University Center
As the brisk Wednesday morning swells to a start, five people wait at 10th Avenue and 21st Street for their mode of transportation.  This is just the first stop of many for this bus route.  Jostling aboard the bus, careful not to sit too closely to one another, students exchange pleasantries with the bus driver before each takes a seat. The engine roars to life and the bus heaves forward to the next stop. 

8:48 a.m., Gunter Hall
The shuffle between students entering and exiting the bus is a chorus of movement.  Those outside wait somewhat impatiently in the frosty weather, while the students on the bus shrug every last ounce of warmth possible out of the bus before heading out into the 10-degree weather. They check their seats twice more, and finally exit. 

“Most mornings I usually just walk to class, but since it’s so cold today, I decided to take the bus to my class.  It’s a great feeling knowing I don’t have to wait for my car to start, or worry that it will start.  I can just hop on the bus and go to class,” said Elizabeth Fehringer, a UNC sophomore majoring in graphic design.

10:10 a.m., Candelaria Hall
The 16th stop on the 20-stop bus route is the stop most have been anticipating.  The bus empties and the driver kills the noisy engine.  Cars outside stop to allow the tidal wave of people off the bus and through the crosswalk.  The driver stands, stretching, reaching toward the ceiling, and exits the bus.  His graying hair puffs out under his blue hat. Following his departure, a cloud of cigarette smoke can be seen through the windshield from where he is leaning against the front bumper of the grimy white and orange bus.

“I just like knowing that I don’t have to worry about finding a parking spot in this area of campus on a Wednesday morning,” said Kyle Taplin, a sophomore sport and exercise science major. 

10:47 a.m., In Transit
The small group of students remaining on the bus sway back and forth to the rhythm of the bus’s movement.  The driver presses down on the brakes and everyone is carried forward in their seats by the centrifugal force. The braking motion is a common occurrence; this does not affect the seasoned riders as they do not look up from their phones to investigate the disturbance. The stoplight changes from red to green, and the driver releases the brake, a gasp of escaping air is heard and the bus moves forward.

11:03 a.m., The University Center
The bus has completed its 20 stops and has returned to its origin.  This stop proves more fruitful than the previous one.  A gaggle of 15 wide-eyed students waits in the frigid temperatures for the bus to unload the stragglers left from the 10th Avenue and 17th Street stop. 

The bus moves forward again, restarting the route and fulfilling the routines of UNC students.  The future passengers look up from their phones and books to the thunderous roar of the engine.  The windows of the bus are filled with the condensation from the passengers’ breath.  As the bus reaches its final stop, the brakes come to a squeaking halt and the few students remaining on the bus exit, while those waiting to begin their days take their place. 

What to know before you board

  • The Bear Bus is a joint effort between Greeley Evans Transit and the students of UNC.
  • Students ride free with student ID.

The Gold Route the following:

  • The University Center
  • West and Central Campus residence halls
  • Student Recreation Center
  • Arlington Park Apartments
  • Gunter, Skinner, Candelaria, Butler-Hancock and Kepner halls
  • University Family Housing
  • Jackson Field complex

Source: University of Northern Colorado website