It’s called the Strip & Downtown Express, or SDX. It’s the most direct RTC Transit route between downtown Las Vegas and the Wendoh Media offices, except it ain’t. Once I get to Town Square — the closest bus stop to the Wendoh offices on Post Road — I still have to walk through a shopping center, over a freeway and through an industrial park. It’s a 20- to 25-minute walk in the overachieving Vegas sunshine. My commute from Charleston and Rancho (where I catch the 206; I connect with the SDX at the Bonneville Transit Center) often exceeds 75 minutes, which kind of gives the lie to the whole “express” thing.
But that number doesn’t mean anything if the SDX isn’t running … which it doesn’t, by the way, between the hours of 12:30 and 9 a.m. So, if you need to be at a meeting at 9 a.m. — smack-dab in the middle of the time of day known in other cultures as “rush hour” — the SDX is not an option. You’re taking The Deuce.
On the off chance that Andrew Dice Clay is reading this, I should hasten to say that “The Deuce” isn’t the punchline to a joke about Immodium AD, but a double-decker bus that runs the length of the Strip, from Fremont Street in the north to Mandalay Bay in the south — and it stops in front of nearly every single property on the Strip, presumably so that tourists won’t be tempted to walk to some other casino to catch it. It’s a slow, noisy, and acutely aggravating ride, even in the morning hours. And this morning, for 60 glorious minutes, it was mine.
It wasn’t all bad. The view from the upper level of a Deuce is sensational — better still if you manage to get a seat up front, easy to do before eight in the morning. I saw the D, the SLS, the LVH — our three “new” resorts, and also the least helpful Scrabble draw ever. I sat alongside tourists who tried to engage me in German and Japanese, and in the process, we learned that the word “hangover” is kind of universal. And I enjoyed the driver’s increasingly harried PA announcements: “Can someone on this bus help me to translate Spanish to English? No one on this entire bus knows Spanish? Seriously? Huh. That’s a … surprise.”
I realize that I’m close to being alone in this. If the RTC had a real need to run the SDX before 9 a.m., they would find space in the budget to do it. And if anyone else in this office was taking the bus to work — hell, anyone else in this entire industrial park — I’m sure the RTC would take pity on us and install one lousy bus stop at Sunset and Polaris. But I fear it’s going to be a long time before the ridership numbers drive RTC to do these things, and by then I’m sure I’ll have given this up and acquired a car, or quit this job to take a new one as a Deuce-based Spanish-to-English translator. ¿Por qué, te preguntarás? ¿Por qué no?
- Yesterday I tried to snap a few photos of the Bonneville Transit Center — as I said in the previous post, it really is a nice-looking facility. No sooner had the Nikon come out was I surrounded by four security guards, one of them on a bicycle, telling me to Cut That Shit Out or Else. I’m used to such behavior in Seattle — uptight repression is kind of a thing up there; we have a team training in it in anticipation of it becoming an Olympic sport. But I’d hoped that Las Vegas, a culture built on a foundation of ¿por qué no?, would be cooler than that. Nope, it’s the same deal. Oh, well, I was gonna call RTC’s public relations office anyway.
- What’s with all the palm trees around the BTC and City Hall? I know we have to plant those stupid Bart Simpsons around the Strip so people will know we’re a resort town, but they have no place downtown; they guzzle water and provide virtually no shade. (Check out this piece in The Atlantic to learn how other cities are phasing palms out of their public planning.) I’m no gardener, but I don’t have to be to see that other kinds of trees can grow here — trees that look nice and provide much-needed shade in pedestrian areas.
- I, um, I don’t really speak Spanish. I used Google.