Best Bus Route for People-Watching (2003)

RTD Route 52
Arvada to University Hills

When it comes to people-watching, RTD passengers are spoiled. Every route offers the amateur sociologist a wide array of snooping opportunities, but Route 52 is particularly choice. This is one of the routes subcontracted out to Laidlaw, a private firm that hires non-union drivers to drive smaller-than-usual buses, and the cramped quarters are especially conducive to unfettered eavesdropping. Route 52 serves four schools -- Regis University, the University of Denver, South High School and P.S. 1 -- which gives passengers a chance to catch up on all the latest student gossip. (The P.S. 1 riders are especially loud in sharing the most graphic details of their peers' private lives.) In stark contrast to those lively youth are the moribund riders who use the bus to access care at Denver Health; it's a testament to the human spirit to see them at their worst, yet holding their own against the attitudes of impatient youth. The bickering/gossiping is the perfect soundtrack for a route that zigs and zags nonsensically from an outer-city suburb to an inner-city strip mall, and the confusion is only amplified when the driver makes a wrong turn (it happens!) and has to be shouted back on course by a bus full of anxious backseat drivers. With Route 52, RTD is more than just "the Ride"; it's a thrill-a-minute amusement-park ride.

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