The Bucket List

by Lauren Vespoli | 4/11/13 10:00pm

by Tyler Bradford / The Dartmouth

But we should make more of an effort to take the AT. It's free, it's much more environmentally friendly than driving our own cars and it links Hanover to Norwich, Lebanon, West Lebanon, White River Junction, Enfield and Caanan.

The AT, was created as part of the 2000 Upper Valley Transit plan and was intended to reduce traffic, "help preserve the small-town character of communities" and increase access to jobs. In a 2008 survey, 13 percent of 572 respondents said they were Dartmouth riders, and of these, 19 percent were undergraduates.

When I boarded an Orange Line bus to White River Junction from the Hanover Inn on a recent weekday afternoon, I was the only undergraduate on board. The number of riders stuck close to an equilibrium of about five, shifting at the route's West Lebanon stop. Most of the passengers, including a middle-aged man who boarded in West Lebanon with shopping bags and a middle-aged woman who couldn't remember her usual stop, knew the driver's name: Dave. Dave remembered her usual stop at the Sunset Motor Inn on Route 10 and asked her how her knee was doing.

I realized that not only did many of the passengers know Dave's name, but they knew Dave and Dave knew them.

"How's the back feelin', Dave?" a man asked.

"Where's your friend from yesterday?" a young man in a bright green Dartmouth Dining Service polo called. "That was ridiculous. I mean, how many times do you have to tell the woman you didn't know the stop she wanted."

A woman, perhaps slightly batty, became disruptive when Dave didn't make her stop. Another man wearing a Dartmouth baseball cap, sunglasses and a long tan coat boarded the bus to Hanover in West Lebanon. I had seen him before at Dartmouth, sitting on Collis porch. He knew another female passenger, and the two talked all the way back to Hanover. They both helped out at the same church dinners. I learned that there had been a series of robberies on one of the streets off of Route 10 at 6 a.m. this past Sunday. When he grew up in Thetford in the 1950s, people left their doors unlocked.

"But you can't do that anymore," he said.

The AT may not run on weekends, but it's reliable and convenient, and you never know what you might hear. It's no city bus, either. During my commute, everyone said hello to the driver as they boarded and thanked him as they departed.

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