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A look back with RTD’s two longest-serving employees

A friendly feud brews between Terry Vicek and Bob Brewster over who has been employed at RTD the longest. Both worked in public transit before RTD even existed — Vicek was hired as a bus driver for the Denver Tramway Company in 1971, Brewster was hired in 1969 as a ticket agent and, later became a driver for the Denver-Boulder Bus Company, which RTD acquired in 1972.

Of the two, Brewster’s RTD employee number is lower, but Vicek asserts this is just a matter of alphabetical order. ''When RTD started, they decided to go to a number system for all their employees,'' he says. ''So Brewster, being B, got a smaller number. He’ll tell you he’s the oldest RTD employee, but I was in the instruction department and trained him when he was hired.''
Bob Brewster, standing next to a trolley built around the time he was born, has had a lifelong interest in transit. He has worked at RTD for 47 years.

In those days, the two reminisce, the buses were essentially ''boxes on wheels,'' with no power steering, no air conditioning and only intermittent heat. To manage bus temperatures, drivers followed the ''40/20 rule'': 40 miles per hour, with all 20 windows open. The buses also lacked speedometers, so drivers simply did their best to keep pace with the traffic around them. Riders paid a cash fare of 25 cents for local rides and 50 cents for express rides. Vicek recalls stopping his bus at Colfax and Yosemite and collecting an extra nickel from passengers before they could cross Denver city limits into Aurora.
Terry Vicek has worked for RTD as a bus driver, trainer, manager, and ride checker for 49 years, and now uses his part-time paychecks to fund vacations.

After multi-decade careers at RTD, both Vicek and Brewster are retired, though they continue to work part time. Vicek is a ride checker, ensuring that RTD operators provide a safe, timely, comfortable ride to all passengers, while Brewster drives regional and special service buses in Boulder. One thing they both agree on, Brewster notes: ''RTD has blossomed into a well-respected transit agency.''

Both Vicek and Brewster beam as they look back on RTD’s accomplishments: the first public transit agency in the United States to be fully equipped with ADA-compliant lifts, the use of GPS on buses, the successful rollout of FasTracks and the rebirth of Denver’s Union Station.

''I’m actually very proud of what RTD has come to,'' says Vicek. ''When I travel to other cities, I look at their systems, and RTD is the leader in the nation.''

Brewster expressed similar gratification as he reflected on the agency’s growth. ''A few years ago, when I was atop Millennium Bridge, I was struck by the sight of all the moving RTD vehicles: buses, shuttles and rail during the evening peak period,'' he says. ''It was an impressive overview that RTD is a giant piece of machinery, and it takes all sorts of folks to keep it moving successfully. And I was a tiny part of that machinery. I take a certain amount of pride in being a part of that.''