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RTC Las Vegas & Double Decker Buses


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So I just got back from Las Vegas on Sunday and the transit there is really nice. I immediately noticed the cleanliness of the buses (even the ones on The Strip). Then again, I was coming from Philadelphia, which has some of the dirtiest buses and trains I've encountered in the US. RTC Las Vegas seems to run mostly on a grid system (routes that don't go downtown naturally don't go out of their way) and color-codes routes based on frequency (15, 20, 30, 50-60 mins). A very easy to understand and utilize system. Fares are mostly reasonable as well ($3 for a 24hr pass, $6 for the strip). You can even pay with your phone via dedicated app as well (no Apple Wallet functionality yet) The fleet is comprised of a few NABI 40-LFWs and mostly XN40s, XN60s and Enviro 500s. The setups on the Xcelsiors (both 40 & 60) are unusual in that the rear-door is far closer to the the front of the bus than standard, and the rear doors also feature a wheelchair ramp in addition to the one in the front door. IIRC, there is also space for 3 wheelchairs rather than the standard 2. The front of the buses are arranged in aisle-facing seating, while the rear of the bus is forward-facing. The buses also feature a bicycle stop button to let the driver know a passenger is going to retrieve their bike.

The highlight by far was the Enviro 500s. RTC is 1 of 5 agencies that use them (they're all located on the west coast). I've been on the TD Astromegas that Megabus uses, but the Enviro 500s feel just as nice (the Astromegas are basically a transit bus in suburban configuration). RTC has two types, ones with a single staircase that are now used on standard routes and ones with two staircases that are used for service on The Strip. They accelerate quickly, can seat a lot of people (trade-off being not a of standing capacity, even the short people had to bend a little walking in the upper area and the staircase(s) take up a lot of space. Honestly, I think these buses have some potential in Chicago (on the appropriate routes, pesky overhead clearances). I think these could definitely be introduced most places where artics are currently in service (and could even replace the 4000s come retirement). One such place is on some LSD routes (the LaSalle & Michigan express routes & the 26). The 124 & 125 might also be good candidates as well. The buses are 42ft-44ft long, so places where artics might have trouble turning they'll have an easier time, so 151 & 156 maybe?

All in all, I had a really great time using the RTC transit system. My only big complaints were underutilization of some of their transit centers (for example, The U of Nevada-LV transit center has 1 dedicated route serving it, with 4 bus bays and 3-4 other routes that could easily serve it with a 5 min or less deviation. Additionally, because the system is so grid-based, I wish they explored more options with timed transfers, especially in areas where 2-3 routes, especially low-frequency routes, congregate. I think this is especially important because the buses are either EW or NS and very few cross town diagonally (one route heads due east, then due north, then vice versa and another runs diagonally SE/NW and that's about it) so transfers are critical.

If anyone wants to see pictures, I have them. Hopefully Pace picks up some XN40s (or even XN60s for the 352) in the future.

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