VetTheGov recently spent some time riding a couple of routes. Here are some of the conversations we had with several riders and one route we took even had a Deputy Sheriff that works the buses off duty for safety reasons. We spoke with the Deputy of why they ride the buses and he mentioned it was a grant from Homeland Security due to threats against city transit by terrorist groups. The deputies ride four hour shifts mostly during higher riding days and is extra pay for them.
The day started at the Albertson's pickup location on route 11 that goes to the mall and back and then downtown to the transfer station. There was a male passenger at the stop who was wearing a GVT badge of some sort and we asked him if he worked for GVT. The man stated he was wearing an annual bus pass and paid $87.00 annually for the pass. We made the :15 past the hour bus that headed towards the mall first. The bus had eleven passengers on it when we climbed on.
During the ride and observing the passengers most appeared to be homeless people. There was an exchange in front of us where an individual traded a full sub sandwich for just one cigarette. Where are the social justice police when you need them? We arrived at the the mall and everyone on the bus stepped off. They all huddled around the entrance to the mall and shared some cigarettes. Three people entered the bus for the return trip back towards Albertson's. The entire trip took over 40 minutes to make it back to where we first started. However our intentions were to make it to the downtown transfer station so we stayed on. Our next stop was just past the Colorado river where we picked up another homeless person who smelled of campfire. On to the transfer station with only two other passengers.
Once at the transfer station we made it onto the route 5 bus which runs down North Ave. all the way to the Clifton transfer station. This was the largest of buses and most ridden bus for GVT. On the bus we spoke with several riders. One of the riders rode the bus to his workplace and he mentioned he was on a work release program. The rider paid 4.00 monthly since he was on work release and didn't like several things of having to ride this particular bus. He didn't like the inconvenience of the route having only one bus. He didn't like the fact he had to arrive to work 40 minutes before his shift in order to not be late. He also mentioned the buses stopped at 7 PM and he was unable to get home after work. Lastly he mentioned the bus did not travel on Sundays which seemed to be a huge inconvenience for him.
Another rider mentioned he was also on a work release program but currently had no employment. This rider received a free pass and had to make three contacts with potential employers during the day to receive the pass.
We spoke with an anonymous source who rode the bus often and had many insightful observations for us. This source mentioned that most riders receive free passes for the bus since they are homeless and stay at the local shelters downtown. These homeless ride the bus to go eat and buy alcohol and basically use the bus to keep warm and have their social time together. We spoke with one 27 year old who used the bus to attend treatments for his emotional conditions and AA meetings. This person was on SSDI and stayed at an assisted living arrangement here in Grand Junction.
VetTheGov continued to learn that there was a single parent with a couple of kids that rode the bus to get to work and back. This single parent paid full price for the bus in order to support her family. We noticed that most of the riders had passes of some sort as not much money was ever placed into the payment box in the front of the buses.
The other main riders on the GVT system are high schoolers going to a school outside their district. The bus system works well for the kids since they begin so early in the morning and drop off near Grand Junction HS. With this demographic also brings trouble and we learned that drug deals happen often on these buses hence the need for deputies and video cameras on the buses. There is another influence that was the most disturbing for us and that is the influence of the group Insane Clown Posse within Grand Junction. Here is a webpage that shows some of the culture and lyrics used by this group/gang. This gang uses the bus as their mobile facebook and typically sit in the rear of the buses. They discuss how to use the government systems for their benefit so they can leach off of the system. Most of them don't work and are between 17-20 years old. You can recognize them because they wear the ICP logo clothing. They also learn from the lyrics and culture that is becoming very influential over the youth of our country that you the taxpayer are supporting without even knowing you are. Here is a story written in Phoenix about this group which gives a little insight about the culture of these juggalos.