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Averill park, New York, United States
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Monday, February 15, 2010

Bus report from "The Bucket"

Dewey:
Thanks again for meeting with me last week at the El Cortez - I
found our meeting to me most enjoyable and informative. Do you happen to
have the address handy for the "blonde" board you mentioned being of
interest? If you do, I'd appreciate it.

As promised, here is some text describing my experiences using the
bus during my recent trip:
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Sunday: McCarran -> Sam's Town (108,202)

Perhaps the most challenging part of this run was finding the
actual bus stop at McCarran Airport. I get the feeling that it is almost
deliberately hidden. Fortunately, I already knew that I had to find
Ground Level Zero (which is accessed from the baggage claim via an
interior down-escalator (I think there is a nearby elevator as well). It
is not especially well-marked, but there is a "Ground Level Zero" sign
for it if you look around enough (it is at the end of baggage claim
where one descends from the terminal gates, off to your right if you are
descending on those escalators).

Once I got to Ground Level Zero, the challenge of finding the bus
stop was far from over. The area is pretty much a big parking lot for
big vehicles (tour buses and limousines for the most part) in assigned
spaces. I found that one has to cross the street from the terminal exit
(not so much a street as a multi-lane area for limousines) to where the
tour buses park, take a right, and walk quite a ways down to the end of
where the tour buses park. There one will find a small shelter and a
rather temporary looking pole with a small RTC 108-109 sign on it.
That's the airport bus stop. This is fairly easily identified by the
large number of airport employees lounging around waiting for the bus to
arrive.

The RTC website indicates that there is a TVM (Ticket Vending
Machine) at McCarran - I didn't see it anywhere within sight of the bus
stop. It may be there somewhere, but I was glad that I had mail-ordered
my bus pass in advance and had it in hand (I was concerned that I might
need the TVM to validate it, but it could be done on the bus itself). I
was going to take either the 108 or 109, whichever arrived first. I
waited about 10 minutes before a 108 bus rolled up, so I lugged my big
suitcase up onto it (I wouldn't try to do this with much more than I had
to carry) and the driver showed me how to put my un-validated pass into
a hole in the top of the fare-taking thing on the bus to validate it.
Every trip thereafter (for the life of the pass) could then be started
just by swiping the card through the front of this device, with the
exception of the ACE, for which one does not do a card-swipe (but must
be prepared to present a valid pass if asked for it... I was never asked
to do this).

The trip from McCarran to Flamingo Rd. was uneventful. I was
worried about getting off too late, and nearly got off at Tropicana as a
result. Fortunately a fellow bus-rider told me "you want to wait two
stops", and his advice was sound. I got off the 108 just north of
Flamingo, and took the short walk back down to Flamingo, and a short
distance east to the bus stop that was right in front of a UNLV building
there. The area felt quite safe, though I do feel as if I stuck out a
bit being the only suitcase-toting tourist in the area.

About ten minutes later, the 202 came along (it was a
double-decker, the 108 was a regular bus). I climbed on board (the front
door is for boarding, the back door for departing), swiped my card thru
the machine (watching fellow passengers in front of me to see how to
orient the card so as not to appear too naive), and found a place to
stick my suitcase (and I just sat on it to keep it from flopping around)
in the wheelchair-area near the front of the bus. This also gave me a
nice vantage point to watch my stops approach.

The trip out to Boulder Highway (Sam's Town was my destination)
took longer than I expected it to. It is actually quite a distance to
the east, and the bus stopped at nearly every opportunity to pick up
and/or drop off passengers. Fortunately I wasn't in a hurry, otherwise I
probably would have been sweating the delay (as a fellow passenger was,
since he was running late to work). At one point (I think in front of
the Clark County Library) the driver announced that we were running
ahead of schedule and had to wait for five minutes. He stepped off the
bus, and we sat there for five minutes, before he came back on and we
continued on our way.

As I saw Sam's approaching thru the windshield, I wasn't sure when
I should get off the bus. There was a stop just before we got to Boulder
Highway itself (with Sam's looming large), so I got off there and walked
a short distance east on Flamingo, crossed Boulder on the crosswalk, and
walked a fair distance south on Boulder Highway's sidewalk to go in the
front entrance at Sam's. In retrospect, I think I should have stayed on
the bus until it turned onto Boulder Highway and made a loop around
Sam's (the end of the line for it). The walk would have likely been far
shorter and would not have required me to cross Boulder on foot.

Overall, the trip from McCarran to Sam's Town took me about an hour
by bus, and was far, far less expensive than it would have been by any
other mode of transportation from the airport. Maybe that's why they
make the bus stop hard to find there (to encourage limo/cab/shuttle usage).


-------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tuesday: Fremont Hotel -> Mandalay Bay (ACE)

Using the ACE to get from the Fremont Hotel (and by proximity from
the Fremont Street Experience in general) to Mandalay Bay was fast and
easy. The southbound ACE stop for the FSE is right between the Fremont
Hotel and Binion's (on the Binion's side) and is clean, modern, equipped
with ticket vending machines, and quite safe-feeling for just about
anyone. I waited about 5 minutes there for the ACE to arrive, and got on
to find plenty of seating available (in the morning, during the week).
The trip was uneventful and much faster than a Deuce trip would have
been, depositing me outside Mandalay Bay about 40 minutes from the time
we left the Fremont. The ACE requires riders to carry a valid transit
pass, but you don't have to beep it when you get on. Instead, conductors
are supposed to circulate thru the buses on occasion and verify that
everyone has a pass. During my ACE trip, this did not happen.


-------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tuesday: Mirage -> Fremont Hotel (ACE)

I used the ACE to access Fremont one night, coming up north from
Mirage. This proved to be more challenging than I expected it to be,
mostly because I didn't have a map of the ACE stops with me and made the
mistake of thinking "All I have to do is get over on the east side of
the strip and start walking north until I hit one". That was quite a
hike as it turns out that the first northbound ACE stop north of Mirage
is just past the Wynn resort. By the time I got on (it was quite late
and I was tired to begin with), I nearly fell asleep as we made our way
downtown. With minimal traffic that far north of the strip, however, the
actual bus ride was very short and dropped me quite conveniently right
at the Fremont Street Experience. I will make sure that I carry a map of
the ACE stops on the strip the next time I plan to use it. In retrospect
I should have just used the Deuce to get to an ACE stop (or all the way
downtown) since the Deuce stops are far more numerous on the Strip, and
my transit pass (as is the case with anyone's unlimited transit pass)
would have been good on the Deuce as well. I did do some
Google-searching for a list of ACE stops on the Strip using my
BlackBerry, and was unable to access that information on my mobile device.


-------------------------------------------------------------------------

There's my bus report - Please feel free to reprint, edit,
paraphrase, use the info above for your own writing, or do whatever you
feel like with this account of my bus travels - I hereby release it into
the public domain for any usage. I was sad to hear that your trip ended
up with you being down financially - hang in there - I've found that it
always seems to swing the other way, eventually. Fortunately my baccarat
play proved to be very profitable this trip (though of course it could
just as easily have been the opposite). I did find that using the bus
made this trip quite unique, and I will likely do it again. Thanks again
for all your great information about the bus system, and for your
company at lunch.


The Bucket"   can be reached at:

bucket@coindropper.com 

Dewey's response:

Thanks, Bucket, I did not change a word. These anecdotal narratives in the words of the traveler are exactly what we need when planning the bus in Vegas.
Thanks for the time it took to write it and your kindness in letting me put it on the blog. And for buying dinner. 

One thing that stood out for me is this. If folks  are in a hurry, the bus can seem exasperatingly long. I always settle in and enjoy the ride itself as its own treat, so the time does not bother me.  it is a long way to the Boulder Strip.  Soon that time will be shortened when a new ACE like line is built along Boulder Highway.

While gambling when the outcome is all luck swings by itself, live poker losses like those I experienced are evidence that something is definitely wrong since over 16 days I should have been able to manage some control over the outcome.  It is very disconcerting.  I'll most likely have year to think about it while I write about buses and resort fees and bed bugs.

"




 
 

Dewey's response:

Thanks, Bucket, I did not change a word. These anecdotal narratives in the words of the traveler are exactly what we need when planning the bus in Vegas.
Thanks for the time it took to write it and your kindness in letting me put it on the blog. And for buying dinner. 

One thing that stood out for me is this. If folks  are in a hurry, the bus can seem exasperatingly long. I always settle in and enjoy the ride itself as its own treat, so the time does not bother me.  it is a long way to the Boulder Strip.  Soon that time will be shortened when a new ACE like line is built along Boulder Highway.

While gambling when the outcome is all luck swings by itself, live poker losses like those I experienced are evidence that something is definitely wrong since over 16 days I should have been able to manage some control over the outcome.  It is very disconcerting.  I'll most likely have year to think about it while I write about buses and resort fees and bed bugs.

"

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