RTC of Southern Nevada lends to a faster, cleaner and greener Las Vegas experience
By Jacob Snow
Public transportation usually focuses solely on moving people. However, here in Las Vegas, a city known for its bright lights, stunning resorts, five-star restaurants, unsurpassed gaming and entertainment and world-class hospitality, public transportation can never be a run-of-the-mill bus run that stops every quarter-mile. At the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTCSN), we pride ourselves on providing fast and innovative transit service to the 38 million tourists and 2 million residents who live, work and play in Southern Nevada.
With a relatively young transit service — just 20 years old — RTC has an opportunity to build a world-class transit service that focuses on operating quicker, cleaner and greener to ensure public transit is an important factor in the Las Vegas experience. So what does that mean in a city where image is everything?
For the past decade RTC has made significant capital and operational investments that have improved the overall efficiency and effectiveness of our transit system, which has changed the way our community and visitors view public transportation.
The RTC actually began making improvements to the system in 2002 with one of the primary goals being to replace and expand our fleet. In the past the fleet consisted of outdated, over-used, clunky buses. Today, we currently operate more than 200 modern, attractive and fuel-efficient vehicles.
In addition to improving our fleet, we also recently installed 300 solar-powered transit shelters built with recyclable materials to make waiting for a bus cleaner and greener. Each one features a bench, receptacle bin, display case for transit information and two advertising panels with room to accommodate a passenger in a wheelchair or other mobility device. In 2013 we anticipate installing another 150 of these solar-powered shelters.
These cleaner and greener amenities are only part of our successful transit system. Our most important improvement in the transit experience is the much faster service.
At one time the system had an on-time performance of 78 percent. Through a renewed emphasis on delivering on-time service we have since modified our routes in an effort to reduce one-way loops, retimed our schedules and reviewed our transit stops. All this enables us to provide more direct and reliable service. Today, our on-time performance stands at 91 percent.
We also recently launched new routes designed with speed in mind. We have built three park and ride facilities, a state-of-the-art transit facility, developed and implemented six express routes. These express routes bring commuters from their residential neighborhoods into Southern Nevada’s core business district, downtown Las Vegas and the Las Vegas Strip. They provide transit riders with faster service with fewer stops that feed into the Bonneville Transit Center (BTC), the central hub for all our transit routes. Ridership on most of our express routes has grown by more than 50 percent with more and more choice riders leaving behind their vehicles and relying on the RTC to do the driving for them.
For our millions of annual visitors, we purchased Alexander Dennis double-deck vehicles and launched the Deuce on the Strip service. These double decks provide the best view of the Las Vegas Strip while ferrying nearly 24,000 passengers per day to dozens of destinations on the Strip and in downtown Las Vegas. This is clearly our most popular service.
We recently launched the Strip & Downtown Express Bus Rapid Transit Service to accommodate travelers who needing to get to their destinations on the Strip quicker. Similar to our other express routes, this service provides tourists with faster service with fewer stops and carries more than 16,000 riders a day. Combined, both services carry over 40,000 passengers per day along the Strip.
Today, these two routes not only pay for themselves but also generate additional revenue that subsidizes residential transit routes in our system. Together, they provide fast, frequent and convenient services that link the world-famous Las Vegas Strip with downtown Las Vegas in true Las Vegas style.
Despite the economic recession, last year our transit system operating on 39 routes carried more than 57 million riders. Carrying 184,000 people each day, ridership is up eight percent from this time last year. We attribute much of this success to the vision and direction of RTC to provide a quicker, cleaner and greener public transportation system that our community and our tourists choose to ride. BR
Jacob Snow recently departed the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada after 13 years as the general manager. He is now the city manager for the City of Henderson, NV.