Port Authority Christmas bus delivers commuters and Yuletide cheer
Amy Duffy is a Christmas princess, but her method of transport isn’t a one-horse open sleigh.
It’s a Port Authority bus.
Yes, a bus.
For the last three years, Duffy, a driver out of the Port Authority’s Collier Garage in Collier Township, has used her own brand of magic to turn a bus into a winter wonderland that could be the envy of any Christmas reveler.
She loves to see people’s reactions.
“I like Christmas. I like to decorate. But, I love the bus. It makes so many people happy,” she said. “I just want them to be happy. People have literally said that. They get on the bus and they’re like, ‘You made me happy. I was sad and I had a bad day or whatever.’ They love it.”
It takes a couple weeks to turn the bus into the perfect place to celebrate the Yuletide Season.
Work starts around the beginning of November so it can be ready in time for Light Up Night.
The decorations stay out until Jan. 1.
Duffy doesn’t string the lights and hang the stockings alone. Her colleagues, Tom Schetley and Rusty Demczak, help her pay for the decorations as well as put them up.
“It makes a lot of people smile,” Demczak said.
The front exterior of the bus sports a full Rudolph ensemble complete with antlers and a bright red nose, as well as a green wreath and red-and-white striped bows. There are candy cane decorations on the sides and on the back. The windows have wintry decals.
The inside looks like someone’s living room — which is exactly what Duffy was aiming for.
Colorful lights and tinsel are strewn across the ceiling. Panels have been decorated to look like presents with ribbons and bows.
There are stockings, mistletoe, Christmas trees, and a large Santa figurine. The backs of the seats have snowman and Santa-themed covers.
There is also poster board people can sign to show they have been on the bus, which is now in its third year.
While the decorations are festive, Duffy and the others have to make sure the bus is still safe and operational. They can’t block things like the bike rack or handicapped-accessible seating.
“Everything has to be functional, as it would be,” Demczak said. “This bus actually runs in service like this.”
Duffy has been with the Port Authority for three years. She knew she wanted to have a Christmas-themed bus while she was still in training, and told the head of the garage that.
“I marched right back into (his) office … and I’m like, ‘I want A Christmas bus,’” she recalled. “ He’s like, ‘OK.’”
That was that.
On Tuesday, it took the 41-Bower Hill route, which runs from Bridgeville to Scott, Mt. Lebanon, Dormont, Brookline and downtown Pittsburgh.
Passenger Melissa Swiger rode the Christmas bus for the first time Tuesday. She liked it.
“It just kind of takes away from the mundane trip home,” she said. “It makes people more sociable, less grumpy.”
Duffy has always worked at the Collier Garage. She said she will keep the Christmas bus going for as long as she is able to.
“It’s my bus till I say I’m done,” she said.
Madasyn Czebiniak is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Madasyn at 724-226-4702, [email protected], or via Twitter @maddyczebstrib.