Maybe Americans are interested in public transportation.
On July 1, Glacier National Park’s Going-to-the-Sun Road had one of its latest opening dates ever, and a new free transit service over the pass began operation.
The next day passengers filled one shuttle bus to its 12-person capacity almost as soon as its doors opened at the Apgar Transit Center.
On board were a reporter, a family of five with southern accents, a young couple in backpacking clothes, a mother and her college-aged daughter, and an elderly woman and her husband, who sported a cap emblazoned “F.B.I.,” with the words “Firm Believer in Jesus” written underneath.
Jesus don’t need no stinking initial.
As the bus rolled out of the terminal, the passengers unfolded promotional maps and studied the bus route.
At the first of several stops, the Southern family got off and another family boarded after the driver gave permission for a child to sit on a lap, bumping the bus’s cargo to 13 passengers.
They told the driver they’d waited an hour for a bus with room.
The driver was quiet for most of the ride—this is not a guided tour—but passengers took the conversational initiative, starting with a girl who gasped and shouted “Look at the deery!” indicating a tawny doe grazing near the road.
Later, the whole bus, including jaded locals, laughed as a mountain goat zig-zagged between lanes, halting traffic for several minutes before skittering up a near-vertical cliff.
Along the way, passengers also pointed to evidence of the November floods that made the road so difficult to open. Huge uprooted trees remained scattered up and down McDonald Creek, and piles of rock lay alongside the road. Near Logan Pass, construction equipment was parked on the shoulder near a spot where the guard wall disappeared.
By the time it reached the pass, the shuttle held 15 passengers, including a couple that begged to sit on the floor.
“They ain’t got near enough busses,” one man commented.
Only four passengers disembarked to explore the famously beautiful pass on foot, the rest deciding to take the ride back down while they had one.