Interesting Denver Transit Facts

I had an exciting opportunity to become a customer of Denver Transit today, taking the bus downtown from the suburbs where brother Mike was dealing with VW challenges. Here’s what I learned:

  • Denver is known (at least by its transit department) as the “cradle of accessibility.” Evidence from my trip certainly suggests this is true: 100% of their buses are are wheelchair accessible, with flip-down ramps that come out from under the front stairs. I read a pamphlet on the bus about a recent Americans with Disabilities Act judicial “consent decree” that forces the transit department not only to offer accessible transit, but also forces them to treat all of their passengers with respect, and to allow them to configure their wheelchairs as they like (i.e. strapped in or not, etc.). Catherine has always said the ADA is a powerful tool, and at least here in Denver that seems to be true.
  • You can phone 1-888-RTD-TRIP for “real time bus information.” I did this for my bus stop, and was told that the next bus would be along in 20 minutes. The next bus arrived 2 minutes later. In theory, you can also go to www.gortd.com with a WAP-enabled cell phone and get the same data, but that didn’t work for me.
  • There is no advertising, save for transit advertising (“don’t litter” and “don’t shout” mostly) on Denver buses. There is, however, advertising on the benches at the bus stops.
  • You can spend up to 15 years in prison for causing a disturbance on a bus in Denver.
  • In Denver you’re allowed to use a transfer to make a short stop somewhere without paying a fare to re-board your bus.

It took me about 45 minutes to get downtown from the VW dealer on Havana and the trip was quick and efficient; I also got a good anthropological dig through the social strata of the city.

As I write, I’m in a Starbucks in downtown Denver, on “The Mall,” which is a central street that has free low-emission electric buses running up and down 2 or 3 times a minute.

Starbucks, by the way, is friend of the digital nomad. Although their T-Mobile-provided WiFi is expensive at $6/hour, I have found it ubiquitous and unfailingly reliable. Because there’s a Starbucks just outside the Peer1 colocation facility in lower Manhattan, I can even get WiFi while working on Yankee’s servers. I think this move by Starbucks is brilliant: not only do they sell more beverages to WiFi-drinking customers, but they’re well positioned to grow into a sort of “nomad’s filling station” in the future.

WiFi also has a strong presence in budget hotels here: we’ve stayed in two Hampton Inns and a Fairfield that blanketed their properties with free WiFi. I haven’t had to dial into my “for on the road only” Earthlink account at all for the two weeks I’ve been away, which has been great (and probably means that I will part ways with Earthlink upon my return).

If I can solve the ergonomics issues, and the “traveling companions impatience issues,” fulltime nomadicity appears to be a reasonable goal. I’m not headed towards it, but it’s nice to know it’s a possibility.

Mike is on his way here, so must finish up and prepare for travel home.

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