Pcwi 14 bus illustration lukas ketner rkunm0

Image: Lukas Ketner

One day while riding the bus I sat next to a guy dressed in a chicken suit. While everyone who boarded and saw him immediately smiled and stole glances at him throughout their ride, he was completely nonchalant, reading the Wall Street Journal, as if he were a carpooler on the Long Island Expressway. “Nice chicken suit,” I whispered to him. “You definitely have the legs for it.” He flashed me a seductive grin and said simply, “Thanks,” and then went back to his paper.

The Park City bus system is similar to those found in most towns, except for one thing: it’s free. That’s right. No passes, credit cards, or digging around for spare change. Service goes from Deer Valley to Kimball Junction and many points in between, including a stop at the end of my street. As a frequent rider, I’ve had some pretty unforgettable experiences.

One of my favorites occurred when a woman got her sleeve tangled in her bindings as she loaded her skis onto the rack outside an overcrowded bus. Presumably to avoid dragging her along like some forgotten tethered dog, the driver got off and attempted to unscramble the snag. Several other passengers, including me, got out and tried to solve the puzzle, but to no avail. Finally, her husband pulled out a pair of pinking shears, and against his wife’s adamant protests, cut her loose. Afterward I couldn’t help but wonder, What kind of guy carries around specialty scissors on a ski vacation?

And then there was the time late one night when a very pregnant woman’s water broke on the bus. She was mortified and offered to clean up the mess. The frazzled driver told her not to worry as he frantically drove her and her husband straight to their condo. The amazing part was that, other than freaking out a bit about the water-breaking business, she was the epitome of calm. If I were about to give birth on the bus, calm would definitely not be my state of mind.

Over the years I’ve realized that riding the Park City bus is about much more than simply getting from point A to point B. For those of us who live here, the bus is a convenient, if quirky, benefit of small-town mountain living. If you’re a visitor, consider it a glimpse at Park City’s funky gestalt. And if you happen to run into that guy in the chicken suit, tell him I was only trying to make conversation.

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