'Collier Christmas Bus' rides through Bridgeville, Carnegie areas
It's not quite the Polar Express, but Amy Duffy's Port Authority bus can take passengers on a festive journey to and from Downtown Pittsburgh and its southwest neighborhoods.
With a wreath and Rudolph nose out front, along with lights, seat covers and even a dancing Santa Claus inside, Duffy's bus is designed to put riders in a festive spirit.
"They're amazed by it," said Duffy, a Port Authority of Allegheny County driver for two years. "I just wanted to brighten people's days. People will tell me that it makes them happy to see the bus like this."
Dubbed the Collier Christmas Bus, Duffy takes the bus on a number of routes through Bridgeville, South Fayette, Mt. Lebanon and Carnegie from the authority's garage in Collier. She is off Wednesdays and Thursdays, so another driver takes over.
Duffy said a driver on a recent Thursday told her "a little kid got on the bus and sat down right next to Santa and was talking to him the entire ride."
She said, "there's older people who say, 'I've never seen a bus like this before.' And, they've been around, so I'm glad to give them something new to experience. People have sent emails and I've seen comments on sites asking where to get the bus and how to ride it."
The bus also includes window clings, wrapping paper around the fare box, garland, antlers on the outside windows and much more.
"I'm adding stuff every day," Duffy said.
Duffy even decorates herself. She wears a new Christmas headband each day, switching between a Christmas tree, antlers and an elf and Santa hat.
It took three days in November to decorate the bus. Duffy was assisted by her supervisor and a co-worker. Most of the decorations are her own, but maintenance workers and a Port Authority dispatcher also have given her decorations.
"It takes a village," Duffy said of the help from colleagues. "I'm trying to get my house to look like this. I have boxes everywhere."
There also is a bus out of the East Liberty garage that is decorated for Christmas, but Duffy stresses that there is no competition between the two and that it's all in good fun.
Her brother, who has worked for the Port Authority for 17 years, said there was a former driver who would also decorate a bus for Christmas.
The Collier Christmas Bus started its route on Nov. 17, the same day as Pittsburgh's Light Up Night.
Matthew Peaslee is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.