For years, passengers shuttling between Denver International Airport’s terminals were publicly shamed if they were dilly-dallying while boarding the tram or tried to hop on at the very last second. When the doors couldn’t close, a stern message automatically played: “You are delaying the departure of this train,” with a hard emphasis on the “you.” It had a knack for drawing attention to the offender—who would receive stares or chuckles, or, most often, both.
The message has officially been pronounced dead. Airport officials could only confirm it has been playing since 2007, although they suspect some form of it has ran since the airport’s opening in 1995. The official cause of death: Complaints.
“People either loved it or felt that it might be a little bossy,” says DIA spokeswoman Emily Williams.
The DIA train message is being remembered by its friends as stern, but fair. The message served as a consistent voice of reason in an era when people forget to take their laptops out of their bags in security, making fellow travelers wonder “have you ever been to an airport?”
“It was the voice of God coming down and telling you to get on the damn train,” remembers Benjamin Waters, a Denver lobbyist and owner of Waters Public Affairs.
Waters travels about 15 to 20 times a year. Hearing the message had been a comfort of home and an endearing quirk.
“I love our airport,” he says. “It’s the best airport in the world. You go to DIA around sunset and you see the demon horse eyes shooting out and then the passive-aggressive train greeting.”
The most recent train delay message was recorded by professional sports announcer Alan Roach and now retired news anchor Adele Arakawa.
“It was unique. It was a little bit in your face,” says Roach, in his signature deep voice. “But yet at the same time, it was funny.”
The train message, at times, could be a bit harsh, lacking empathy.
Emily Ibach, who works in government affairs, recalls returning home from a trip to Washington, D.C. last spring. As she was boarding the train to get to baggage claim, she tripped because the person in front of her abruptly stopped. She’s not usually one to hold up a tram.
“I was right in the door when I tripped on the luggage in front of me, causing a rather embarrassing fall,” she recalls. Before she could get up, the message put the spotlight on her: “You are delaying the departure of this train.” A fellow passenger helped her up and half the train got a good laugh, Ibach included.
As of late September, the train message has been replaced. Williams says the airport decided to go with a gentler message that simply reminds passengers to keep clear of the doors as the train is departing. After more than 75,000 people voted in an online poll, Roach and Kim Christiansen, KUSA 9News anchor, were chosen to be the voices of the train call.
In lieu of sending flowers, those mourning the train message can download it as a ringtone here.
Over the years, the sharp train message had evolved into an inside joke among Denverites. To keep its memory alive, download the recording, courtesy of DIA, and play it the next time your meeting starts to drag on for too long or when you can’t get your kids out of the door for school.