For many years, Burning Man ran a shuttle bus service between Black Rock City and the towns of Gerlach and Empire. During the early years of high demand, two buses alternated the circuit, offering the shuttle service on an hourly basis. Over the years we reduced the schedule to better match decreasing ridership, which has been a steady trend since 2010. We were down to one bus making the two-hour run three times a day, twice on Saturday, and some of the later runs had a single rider. 2016 saw the lowest ridership in an eight-year period.
Some blame The Kid, Burning Man’s Gerlach-Empire shuttle depot manager between the reigns of The Owl and Human Jones. The Kid’s style of managing the shuttle bus operations was to gently interrogate riders as to why they would ever want to leave Black Rock City on such a beautiful day?
I’m sure his passing resemblance to professional wrestler Hulk Hogan had no influence. The Kid also portrayed a famous “you shall not pass!” wizard on a local TV spot. Coincidence?
We want to thank our Empire–Gerlach shuttle bus provider, Green Tortoise, depot managers The Owl, The Kid, Human Jones and especially all the volunteers over the years who sold bus tickets and we’re sure mostly correctly answered general questions for anyone who walked up to the ticket booth. We hope some of these volunteers will join the growing crews supporting Burner Express Bus and Air.
Participants still have the option to leave and return by personal vehicle for an in and out fee of $20 per person.
Top photo by Fred Whitman. Sorry they’re so blurry — they’re classics.