A couple weeks ago I was in Las Vegas for a conference. Las Vegas brings plenty of images to mind for most people – gambling, bright lights, crowded streets, over the top architecture, drunken bachelor and bachelorette parties, and so much excess. But something you might not associate with Vegas is bus rapid transit (BRT), and even a transit wonk like me had never had that association until a couple weeks ago.
For the first time I stayed in downtown Las Vegas, which still has plenty of tourist-attracting hotels and casinos but also is filled with office buildings and some housing. It also has buses, lots and lots of buses. And on my second day in Vegas, as I was walking to an event, I was overjoyed to run into not one but two bus rapid transit lines!
Here are some of the photos I took:
You might not be able to tell from these photos, but these buses were packed! What you can tell from the photos is that the stations are gorgeous. Thinking about having infrastructure like this in Oakland along Telegraph and International makes me so excited.
When I returned to Oakland, I looked into the BRT lines a bit more and found that the one in the first four photos – Metropolitan Area Express (MAX) – has been in operation since 2004 and the line in the fifth photo opened last year. The lines have been incredibly successful, and Vegas broke ground on another BRT project earlier this year.
Judging by how crowded these buses were and by the variety of people getting on and off the buses, I was not surprised to find out that some riders were lured onto transit by BRT and might have never ridden a bus regularly otherwise:
One C-Line passenger, Chris Jacobs, a manager at Trump International Hotel, said, “This is the first time I’ve taken public transportation. Ever.” And he’s not alone.
The final environmental impact report for the East Bay BRT line is being done right now, and the project will soon come before the Oakland City Council. If these photos made you jealous, get ready to urge the Council to approve the system and move our bus system forward. I’ll post updates here as the project moves forward.