Riding into 2003 Tahoe style | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Riding into 2003 Tahoe style

Dennis Koss knows better than to believe his bus will run on schedule New Year’s Eve night.

“Being behind schedule happens,” he said about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday. “The traffic is so bad you just throw the schedule out the window.”

Koss was driving a South Tahoe Air Ground Express bus which has a reputation for being a bit wild prior to the stroke of midnight.

“I say the party isn’t at Harveys, it’s on the buses,” said Chris Knight, general manager of Area Transit Management.

Koss, driving through the neighborhoods of Bijou, talked about the philosophy of driving the bus during one of Tahoe’s busiest times.

“I’ve driven charter buses before where I drove students on football and softball games,” he said about the comparison of driving students and college party animals. “You just have to deal with it with perspective. If they don’t calm down, you let them know who’s boss. Basically you have three strikes and you’re out.”

After returning to the transit station at the “Y” Koss returned to Lake Tahoe Boulevard where he quickly gained a packed bus. He passed people with thumbs in the air, hoping to get a ride to Stateline.

Jason Harrison, Mellissa Lewis and Will O’Brien hitched a ride before the madness. All three moved to South Lake Tahoe around Thanksgiving and were looking forward to their first New Year’s in the mountains.

“Can you smoke outside?” Harrison asked about cigarettes, after asking about liquor laws. The three were initially headed to a pizza place but decided to go to a liquor store instead.

During their discussion, a classic rock station took a break from playing Tom Petty when the disc jockey took the opportunity to plead with listeners not to drink and drive.

“Hey, that’s what the bus is for,” Lewis said.

Jay and Kathleen Harvey from Riverside County were also on the bus. The two were with New Year’s veterans Jim and Connie Johnson of Ocean Beach.

The four were headed to Stateline early.

“We’re going to people watch and my kids are at the arcade so we’re going to meet them,” Kathleen Harvey said.

They were hopeful about taking the bus back to their condominium but believed they would end up walking to the Johnson’s condominium behind the Bank of America on Lake Tahoe Boulevard.

Enrique Avine and Victor Mariscal, both 17, were taking the bus to meet their girlfriends near Stateline. Both have taken the bus numerous times and have seen the best and worst of it.

“Some girls flash,” Mariscal said.

“Some people pass out,” Avine added.

“They get hella drunk,” Mariscal said.

Koss, the driver of the bus, said alcohol is prohibited on his ride.

“I tell them to get off my bus if I see somebody drinking,” he said underneath a brimmed hat. “I have no problem with that.”

Koss was weaving his bus around Stateline Boulevard behind Harveys Resort and Casino to get back to Park Avenue. Cars were lined on the side. Koss had to honk his horn repeatedly to remind people to get off the road and shut car doors.

He didn’t know what time he was going to get off work, but knew it would be late. After 2002 becomes 2003, his bus becomes a quasi-taxi.

“At that point it’s just drive,” Koss said. “Get everybody to their destination and keep moving.”

–Contact William Ferchland at wferchland@tahoedailytribune.com

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