So there I was, at the end of the Hermit’s Rest bus route, and the driver, the same one who had driven me out there while I was barefoot, asked “Do you have any shoes?”
I guess I’d had a bit of warning.
Last month, Alan Bruens, friend and fellow barefooter, had visited the Grand Canyon.
He’d also had trouble with one of the buses. The most frustrating thing with his incident was that the bus driver kept repeating, “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service” as if it was some sort of magic mantra. Alan’s driver then checked with her dispatcher. The result?
It is as if these people just turn off their brains.
The thing is, the bus rules are written in the Park Service official Grand Canyon guide:
What are the shuttle bus rules?
- No eating or open drink containers.
- No pets, except service animals.
- All strollers must be collapsed prior to
entering the bus; no oversized strollers. Baby
back carriers must be removed when seated.
- Riders must load and unload their bicycles.
- Shuttle buses only stop at designated bus stops.
That’s it. These rules are also written on each bus above the driver’s head.
These people just make up whatever crap they want, and think it is ordained.
So, my bus driver asked, “Do you have any shoes?”
She went on that she knew she’d driven me out there shoeless, and that she would therefore drive me back, but that shoes were required. She’d checked with the dispatcher.
“What?” I asked, “Has the word now been put out to look for me? I still need to catch the Blue Shuttle to get back to my car.”
The driver answered that while it wasn’t that coordinated, any bus driver might refuse me service.
The thing is, I’d used the buses with no problem the rest of my time there. Here’s a map of the whole system (click for the fully readable version):
To get to the South Kaibab Trailhead, I’d ridden the Orange Shuttle. Twice. (I left my hiking stick in my car, so I had to ride its full loop to get back to my car, and then catch a different bus because the one I had been on was switching to Blue. Neither driver seemed to care about my bare feet.) When I got up the Bright Angel Trail, I rode a Blue Shuttle back to my car in the Visitor’s Center Parking. I rode a Blue Shuttle out to the Hermit’s Rest transfer point. Again, no problem.
It was only this one bus driver, backed up by a dispatcher.
It turns out, I didn’t have trouble getting back to my car at the Market Plaza. At the transfer point, that bus driver had no problem with my bare feet. (Though, I have to admit to kind of sliding in behind some other people who were boarding.)
It was still early. I was planning on relaxing a bit anyways, and I had a few blog entries I wanted to upload. Upload where WiFi was available. At the Park Headquarters.
So I had some “discussions” with Park Personnel, to find out what was up.
The thing to keep in mind is that I wanted to head back out to Hermit’s Rest (this time remembering my wallet) to buy some stuff there, and I also wanted to stop at some of the overlooks, which I had not done before.
It turns out that the buses are contracted out to Paul Revere Transportation. (Why is it that the companies and places most willing to tromp on rights have patriotic names?) They run the Shuttles at Boston’s Logan Airport, and also shuttles to the Mohegan Sun Casino. (And if you know anything about casino runs, they tend to be party buses—they have no trouble with drunken passengers who cannot even stand up.)
The Park Personnel gave me the name and phone number of the person in charge at Paul Revere. I found her singularly useless. She also was very fond of the Magic Mantra, but went even further in making up crap.
You see, they had to ban bare feet (and she did claim it was company policy) because sometimes they worked on the railings in the buses, and a worker might drop a rivet that I might step on, and I might sue. (No worry, I guess, about if that rivet fell on a seat where some girl with short shorts might sit on it.)
She also asked about the General Store, which does have this sign on the front:
Here’s the thing: I can shop elsewhere. There are stores just outside Grand Canyon Village. I have no choice when it comes to the shuttle buses.
My suspicion was that the company had no such rule at all, and that she was just making it up (or was just thoroughly convinced through her ignorance). So, I asked for a copy of her company’s official policies.
No, she would not give them to me. I had to get them from Park Personnel.
But she did work to “resolve” my problem, but only because I mentioned that I have a need to go barefoot (that Morton’s Neuroma).
So, she told me I could get a full-access pass to drive my own car on the Orange Bus Route (which is normally closed to cars). All I had to do was go to a Park Office.
So, back I went to the Park Headquarters, where they gave me a Access Pass, complete with the secret code to operate the gate. (!)
I was really loathe to get it, but the park personnel were very sympathetic, and really didn’t think I was trying to game the system. After all, all I really wanted was just to be able to ride the dang buses! I didn’t need any special favor.
At the same time, I also talked to the Park’s Deputy Chief of Concessions Management. She promised to get Paul Revere’s official policy for me (I don’t have it yet—I think I need to send a reminder email).
So, with magic pass in hand (actually, on dashboard), I drove my own car on the Orange Shuttle route. I got my stuff at Hermit’s Rest. I stopped at overlooks.
That’s where I got this view of the end of Bright Angel Trail that I showed you last Friday (again, click for the monster version):
It is also where I got this great (stitched) panoramic shot of The Abyss:
The whole thing is incredibly stupid. The Park Service and the Grand Canyon are working hard to be environmentally responsible. They have special water-filling stations so folks don’t use and discard plastic water bottles. They have recycling stations all over the place. They have the Shuttle Buses (that use Compressed Natural Gas) to cut down on driving and air pollution. They try really, really hard to be green.
And, think about it, what could be greener than bare feet?
Yet their bus company sabotages all that by not letting my green feet ride their buses, and as a result of “accommodating” me, I drove my car around instead of taking a shuttle bus.
They were just being self-defeeting!