I Rode the BRIO So You Wouldn’t Have To

The future of public transportatin in El Paso.
I’m going to let you in on the dirty little secret that Sun Metro doesn’t want you to know: That BRIO is just a bus.

There’s no lounge, no balcony, no wine tastings or string quartet. No pool tables or shot girls. No Sports Center on a big screen. No Sky Mall catalog full of almost useless single-purpose things at exorbitant prices. It’s a bus, kind of like all of Sun Metro’s other buses.

It doesn’t stop as much as the other buses. And it has sideways seats, and an accordion chamber in the middle that looks like the set of Starship Troopers, or a Doctor Who episode.

The BRIO won’t get you downtown as fast as the Westside Express, but the BRIO runs down Mesa, so if you live on the route, and you’re not travelling from terminus to terminus, the BRIO might be handy. Also, the Westside Express perches you up high enough to look over the cement barricades that block Paisano from a view of Felipe Angeles. The Westside Express uses the same type of bus as the BRIO.

Westside Express
Check out this vintage Schwinn High Sierra with roller-cam brakes, motorcycle brake levers, SunTour thumb shifters, and 18″ chainstays (not pictured), on the Westside Express.

You buy your ticket (ticket!) before you board, from a vending machine at the BRIO stop, and board at any door. Like public transportation in a lot of cities, you don’t have to show anyone your ticket unless you’re asked, by what Sun Metro is calling a “BRIO Ambassador.” That system saves time. On my way back home on the Westside Express, we waited while some girl from Buena Vista thumbed pennies into the coin slot. And you can use your ticket as a transfer to the regular buses that leave from bus stops adjacent to the BRIO stops.

I guess the BRIO has some features that aren’t visible to the naked eye. Like Wi-Fi. Because, you know, that smart phone thing is just a fad. The buses also have some technology to hold green lights, to speed you on your way. Red lights are so inconvenient.

So the BRIO is an incremental improvement on the other buses, but it’s still just a bus.

I might take the BRIO if I could think of someplace on the West side that I wanted to go.

Maybe Lloyd’s. Maybe I could get the BRIO driver to pull through Charcoaler if I bought him a bag of onion rings and a Number 9 with cheese.

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