Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Nostalgic Silver 'Dillo farewell

One of the benefits of working for Capital Metro is that you get free travel on all our buses. We just show our ID to the operator. Throw in the high cost of gasoline and the fact that my wife and I only own one car and I’ve become a regular rider in the 15 months since I started here. I do drive occasionally, but I find that having “bus time” to read the paper or listen to something on my iPod or just chill out is something that I look forward to. As a Cap Metro employee, riding for me is also a great way to better understand our system, facilities, and customers.

Until Friday I had three options to get to the Capital Metro building at Pleasant Valley and East 5th Street. I could take the 331 from near my house off South Lamar over to the 300 from East Oltorf and Burton, or ride the 3 downtown and catch either the 17 or the Silver ‘Dillo east to our building. During the day if I needed to run downtown it was always great to be able to catch either the 17 or the ‘Dillo.

But part of my routine changed over the weekend. As I waited for the 5:11 Silver ‘Dillo to take me downtown to meet friends after work this past Friday I realized that it was going to be the last time I rode the Silver ‘Dillo – that in fact as of this weekend there is no more Silver ‘Dillo. The ‘Dillo routes have all be reworked (more details can be found here) and while I agree with reasons behind the restructuring it meant that I had one less option for my own travel.

So my last Silver ‘Dillo on Friday evening was uneventful. That it was a rainy evening was the only thing unusual about the trip. There were probably 9 passengers on the bus when I got on, and it varied between 8 and 14 as we made our way through the eastside and then downtown. As we neared downtown I looked around and saw a pretty representative assortment of Austinites – there was a guy in a sleeveless shirt who had with him a blue furniture dolly (what was that about?); a couple of young guys both headed downtown to go out who got on separately but knew each other; a girl who had her nose in some sort of textbook, two construction workers in their work boots done for the day; and a Capital Metro driver just along for the ride heading to Congress Ave to pick up the bus he would be driving for the evening from another driver.

Friday traffic and vans unloading speakers and equipment in front of the bars along 6th slowed us down -- another Friday night was kicking off. After we crossed Congress I pulled the cord and hopped off at West 6th and Rio Grande in front of Katz’ Deli and said farewell to the Silver ‘Dillo. Then I shot a quick glance over to the two young guys who had gotten off with me and hoped that I hadn’t said it out loud.