The bus was always friendly and comfortable for Beverly Ward.
It was a place where she could make friends. It was a place where she could lean back and take it easy. It was a place where she could catch up on her reading.
For 36 years, Ward counted on the bus to take her from the Northland into downtown where she worked as a legal administrative assistant for the Shook, Hardy & Bacon law firm.
This week, Ward retired from the law firm, ending nearly four decades riding the bus for her daily commute to work.
RideKC celebrated her retirement — and her years of loyalty to the bus system — with a bag of transit goodies and a bus message board illuminated with her name and well wishes.
“You don’t have to worry about anything on the bus,” Ward said. “It gets you there on time. It’s always been convenient. I’ve enjoyed my 36 years riding the bus. Everybody should try the bus.”
Beverly Ward rides the 142 North Oak after retiring May 31.
When Ward started riding the bus in 1981, Ronald Reagan was president, the first space shuttle was launched, Prince Charles married Lady Diana and the Royals lost to the Oakland A’s in the American League playoffs.
Ward always rode the bus as a matter of convenience. It saved wear on her 1999 Ford Ranger. She only had to fill up once a week compared to twice if she was making the 30-mile roundtrip into the city. She could read her favorite John Grisham novel. She could relax and not worry about traffic.
But it’s the relationships that have been the most meaningful.
Over the years, Ward bonded with other riders, or her “bus buddies” as she calls them. They’d chat about their weekends, happenings in their daily lives, vacations, or the latest drama on an episode of the “Bachelor” or “Bachelorette.”
“I’ve made friends for life,” she said.
In all, Ward counted nine or ten in her group of “bus buddies” who would congregate in the back of the bus. Some worked at the law firm. Some worked at Hallmark. Some worked at banks. Others worked elsewhere downtown.
“I made so many friends on the bus,” she said. “I always thought I was going to be on the bus and read and mind my own business. It’s been great.”
Over the years, the “bus buddies” dropped in numbers as some retired, took jobs elsewhere or changed bus routes. Even now, she keeps in touch with riders who’ve dropped from the bus bunch.
She still meets up with them every couple of months for what she affectionately calls the “bus buddy breakfast bash” or the “BBBB."
Every now and then, the group may get together for outings on Saturday whether it's a trip to the River Market or the historic West Bottoms business district.
“It’s not just a bus buddy thing,” she said. “It’s friends we can rely on and enjoy.”
Beverly Ward boards the 142 North Oak after her last day of work May 31.