Vail Character: Meet Vail bus driver John Ervin |

Vail Character: Meet Vail bus driver John Ervin

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado
Melanie Wong/Vail DailyVail bus driver John Ervin stands in front of his trusty bus at the Vail Transportation Center.

VAIL, Colorado ” Chat with Vail bus driver John Ervin for a short time ” say, from the transportation center to the golf course stop ” and you’ll be quick to see why the longtime local was voted the valley’s “best bus driver.”

The North Carolina native is easy-going and friendly. He welcomed people getting on the bus ” he knows many of them ” and was quick to offer answers to any questions that visitors had.

Ervin, 55, first came out to Vail during his college Thanksgiving break in 1974.

“After skiing the mountains of North Carolina all my life, this was like dying and going to skier heaven,” Ervin said.

After earning a business degree and working as a railroad trainman, Ervin returned to Vail as a gondola operator. In 1979, he took a job as a Vail bus driver, also giving him the distinction of being Vail’s most senior bus driver.

Participate in The Longevity Project

The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.

VD: How did you land in Vail?

JE: My plan was always to come back out here. My plan was to buy an acre of land at the bottom of Beaver Creek and build myself a ski-in, ski-out cabin. I was so proud because I had saved $15,000. Turns out I was about $1 million short.

Instead I qualified for affordable housing out in East Vail and bought a BMW motorcycle. I’d tell people I had a new condo in Vail and a new BMW. I just didn’t say it had two wheels.

VD: What do you like about your job?

JE: It’s fun driving the bus, especially on slick roads, sliding around. Icy roads make it a little more challenging. Usually I’m listening to music I like, and I love meeting people.

It’s a pretty low-stress job. After working as a railroad trainman ” it had a lot of dangers and odd hours ” when I encounter anything remotely resembling stress, I think of the railroad job.

VD: What’s it like driving a bus? What is a typical “newbie move”?

JE: It’s actually not very hard to drive the bus. It’s an automatic, and the sheer size is intimidating, so people get out of your way.

At first it’s a little hard (to drive) because of the size. A lot of new drivers will leave a streak on the side of the ice arena. That’s typical.

VD: If you could have anyone step onto your bus, who would it be?

JE: Cameron Diaz. She has the same birthday as my daughter, and it’d be neat to tell her that.

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or

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