Record Setting Shuttles
by Dan Shrike | published Apr. 4th, 2014
In the biting night air of Rochester, a new racing legend has begun. Born not from the burnt rubber and spectacle of a racetrack, these speed demons hide in plain sight: our bus drivers. Their rise to the spotlight and unconventional racing style has become a thorn in the sides of both students and administration.
Rochester’s underground bus racing has been steadily gaining notoriety for its time trial racing during actual bus routes. With maintaining speed so important to lap times, this sub-group of RGRTA employees, known as the Fast and the FuRI(T)ous, has taken to a ‘creative’ interpretation of public transport: skipping route stops. This has caused noticeable backlash on campus and among the student body. As one anonymous student said, “It’s unthinkable! I have to walk to class? That’s fifteen whole minutes of sleep lost!”
These races affect the daily lives of campus safety as well. “Oh yup, those bus drivers just offload the work onto us,” claimed a Mr. Wright. “We’re about to double the officers guarding the Quarter Mile, with the influx of bicyclists this is causing.”
But RIT’s bus drivers would argue that these efforts are worth it in the name of the race. Of this new breed of racer, the current champion is Randal Cooper, a driver since 2012. Newly crowned for the 2014 spring semester, Cooper’s winning run took place on March 1, starting from Gleason Circle at 8:26 p.m. Reaching a blistering 30 mph before exiting the starting area, Cooper’s time was set by skipping a record fourteen unique stops. Cooper’s only stop was dropping off a sole passenger halfway through. Overall, the run took 34 minutes and 5 seconds, crushing the previous record of 40 minutes and 34 seconds. Distorter was lucky enough to interview Cooper on one of his lengthy breaks in the Saunders building.
Cooper had to plan his record setting route carefully. “I’d been out there for weeks in the cold. I was trying to find the best timeslot to take. You’ve got to consider stoplights, drunk drivers, police patterns, the works.”
Cooper’s drive to compete came from fear of the losing penalty. “With the races, it’s become tradition to have the slowest driver assigned to the drunk bus for a semester. Those kids make it a nightmare,” said Cooper. Early in his tenure, he was the driver for the first drunk bus. “I still wake up in a cold sweat sometimes, hearing drunken sing-alongs.”
According to him, each bus route is considered its own track. Each has its differences, but the biggest event is the late night Weekend Shuttle, the race he just won. "It’s hands down the best loop we have. Interesting streets, speedbumps, the faster roads and more stops, makes for higher stakes” said Cooper. The route is longer, and the night run sees much fewer cars on the road. “When it’s clear out there, and I’m out on Jefferson, I can hit upwards of forty miles an hour in my bus,” said Cooper, smiling.
“I don’t mean to disrespect the daytime and weekday routes, but there’s no comparison to the weekend run. The other routes, they see what, one stoplight at worst? Ridiculous,” scoffed Cooper. “Even worse, there’s no way to avoid picking up passengers, and we all know they just slow you down.”