The (New) Bus Stops Here

How a tragedy spurred a major public-private transit investment


In the early morning hours of September 13, 2012, a 24-year-old drunk driver lost control of his car at the corner of Spring Mountain Road and Decatur Boulevard. He crashed into a bus stop on the southeast corner of the intersection, killing four and seriously injuring several others. Intoxication and speed were obvious factors, but so was the position of the bus stop: Like so many others in the Valley, it was located a scant few feet from oncoming traffic, basically in the middle of the sidewalk.

It was a terrible day for all concerned, but on May 13, some small good came of it: At a Regional Transportation Commission press conference, Clark County Commissioner Susan Brager announced that the owner of the property adjoining that fateful bus stop, Dylan Investment Group, had donated the land necessary for RTC to construct two new bus shelters and benches 10 feet from the curb, well out of harm’s way. There are even plans to install a wheelchair ramp from the property’s parking lot.

Brager is grateful for the donated land, which took some time to acquire.

“People don’t like to give up land, and I understand that,” Brager says. “But once [the land owner] realized that we weren’t going to give up, they were right there with us.”

Hopefully, this private-public partnership will set a good example for the rest of the Valley, where the need for safe bus stops remains dire. Carl Scarbrough, RTC’s manager of transit amenities, lays down some sobering numbers: Of the 3,200 bus stops in the Valley, some 400 to 500 of them are just like the one at Spring Mountain and Decatur—a tragedy waiting to happen. But he says there are plans to fix them.

“The City of Las Vegas is going to use some of its money to acquire right-of-way” for some stops, says Scarbrough, while others will be fixed through land donations. Either way, the problem will be addressed. It’s just going to take a while. “This,” he says, “is going to be an ongoing project.”

In the meantime, we should cross our fingers and hope that another September 13, 2012, doesn’t come along to remind us just how thin the line between car and pedestrian really is.