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This is a blog that hopes to help with the confusion of bus riding in Vegas. Comments are encouraged. Spam is not encouraged. Comments that include websites will not be published. Allow time for moderation of all comments.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Posted on one board and worth saving

on buying a pass

Yes, if you buy a strip and downtown 24 hour pass, it is good on any bus in the system whether you buy it from the Deuce driver or the SDX machine or in some cases from a Deuce machine.  Just don't try to use a senior ID in a Deuce machine that only takes credit cards.

Here is what happened to me on my first attempt to use the SDX (then ACE) bak in May of 2010.

One day I was headed for M casino, using the Deuce and then the free shuttle from theFashion Show Mall.
I should have started in front of Paris and used the ACE, but I walked North and ended at a Deuce stop North of Flamingo.
There was a machine there, but it was a Deuce machine. I put my senior ID in the slot. It did not read it, but printed up these instructions:

"Push your card all the way in."

So I did.

That was a mistake. The Deuce machines are only for credit cards. They don't bring up senior reduced rates. My card was stuck.

After a while a bus came and I told the driver. It took a while for her to call, but finally she said it would be three hours before they came to open the machine and even then I could not get my ID back until I went downtown.
Amazing. My photo is on the card.
Since I was going downtown the next day to stay, I just cancelled all plans for the M and went to the Venetian to play poker and lose $475.
It just was not my day.

The next day I went to the Downtown DTC. I expected a hassle, but they had my card right there in a box full of other cards which had been lost as well, perhaps many of them in the Deuce machines.

Well, a good lesson.
Use the SDX whenever possible.  It does not run all hours, but when it does run, reports are that it is much less crowded and much faster.  Check to see it will drop you close enough to where you are going.  During the hours it does not run, the Deuce is also not so crowded.

Now here is the real question.
Not all 24 hour passes are the same.
Those bought on the Deuce or in a machine are good everywhere.
What happens if you buy a residential 24 hour pass? 
If you board first on a residential bus, i.e. one of those that is not the Deuce or the SDX, the 24 hour pass bought from the driver is less money.
If you then want to use that pass to ride  the Deuce, technically that residential pass is only good if you have a local ID.
But there are no upcharges in the system.
The RTC has told me the glitch in the system is that they don't check for local ID and actually that 24 hour residential pass is good on the Deuce and 
SDX as well.

Catman from the Vegasmessage board reported this:

Dewey...The first 3 times on residential buses I asked the driver your questions. First said the 24 hour $5 ticket is good for strip buses whether you live in LV or not(no upcharge). Second said the $5 ticket is only good for residential routes period. Third said the $5 ticket would require a $2 upcharge no matter where you live.

So, I stopped asking. Seems like the answer to your question does not exist.

Where it will matter is for folks who buy a 24 hour pass when boarding the WAX, the new express from the airport.  
The WAX, even though it is an express and has a three letter knickname is in the residential system.  
So seniors with an ID can get a 24 hour pass when leaving the airport for downtown for just $2.  This will turn out to be quite a deal if when they board the WAX, the 24 hour pass is good on all buses.
Also, once folks understand that this is not just an airport to downtown bus, but an airport to the strip at Tropicana or from the strip at Tropicana to downtown, and that unlike the Deuce or SDX this bus will easily accept luggage, more and more tourists may be buying 24 hour passes on that bus. There has not been a way to stay on the strip and then move to downtown with any amount of luggage on just one bus.  And the new downtown bus terminal, a full five blocks from the Fremont Experience, means that often three residential buses are necessary to make the journey from the strip to downtown with luggage.  
Now this one bus will be fast and drop right near the Experience.

Interesting too is that by the time one gets to buying 30 day passes, the distinction between the routes just goes away.  $65 full fare or $30 reduced senior fare gets a month pass period for all buses.  But you can't get these from the vending machines.  Still, a senior contemplating staying downtown and then going by cab to some place near the strip can basically get a 30 day bus pass for the cost of one cab ride.

So far, little of this is from personal experience.  I am going to have some experience with the newly scheduled buses in May and I'll report my findings.  This will include going from the airport to the Orleans by bus.  
This was difficult before last November, but now should be fairly simple.  I board the WAX, get off at Tropicana and then board the 201 and I'm there.  The ride is very short.  It I hit the schedule wrong for the WAX I might have a bit of a wait there.  We'll see.
I may also try to board the SDX with huge luggage.  
I have to get from the Rio to downtown and will try doing it with the 202 to the strip, then the SDX to Tropicana, and the WAX to downtown.  What I figure is that I can get on the SDX, but I might be asked to leave.  However, it is only one stop to Tropicana, so if they put me off, I've made my connection and I won't have to wait with luggage along those residential routes.  Here too I will be using my $2-  24 hour residential pass for the entire trip from the Rio to downtown.
That is a factor too.  
It feels safer to wait for a bus with luggage near the strip than on Swenson and Flamingo. I am pretty vulnerable with a suitcase.  I have never had a problem doing it, but I can see my potential as a guy to shake down. 

on a 30 day pass

Looking at this page on the RTC website, it may now be possible to buy the 30 day from a machine.  I have no anecdotal information on this.  So I don't know.  For a while locals were really mad because the places to buy the 30 day passes were very restricted.  Now they have opened up again I guess from the way I read this chart.
For us, however, if they are not in the vending machines, the easiest place is probably the BTC.  
Again, this is not something I have yet done.
I suspended the bus blog because after November I did not feel very confident with my information and knew that things were going to change anyway as the RTC works out the glitches in the system so I could post something and have it very different the next day, not know, and so send folks in the wrong direction.
I ride less and less.  
Sleeping issues make it hard for me to be away from a nap, so I don't go off for a day of bus riding often.
Live poker means that what is good gambling for me has flip flopped.  Before I wanted the good VP downtown;  now I want to be near the strip for the soft tourist games.
But this next trip I will go from casino to casino on the bus again because I caught such a good deal at Sam's Town for a week, that I patched that in between free room double nights at the Orleans and at the Rio.
I generally finish with a couple days of poker with the fellows at the El Cortez and use their free airport shuttle.  Then I can add a bag of luggage with souvenirs if I want and not be struggling with more than one suitcase on buses.

on splitting a vegas trip between downtown and the strip

All that being said, I can envision, however, especially if hotel rates go up again, a trip that starts at a downtown hotel  and then goes to a strip hotel.  For a dollar one way ticket on the WAX using my senior pass I could go to the BTC and buy a 30 day pass and then reboard any of a half dozen buses and get right near Freemont.  Then I'd be set.  I could hop around town for my entire trip on that pass, head out to offstrip casinos, or restaurants, or places like Spring Preserve or the Pinball Hall of Fame.
Then if I wanted a few days, say at the Orleans or MGM, I could use the pass to get my luggage from downtown fairly easily on the WAX.  If I don't mind a walk from Tropicana, I could get to quite a few places on the strip after being dropped at Tropicana.  I often now walk Arville from the Orleans to the Gold Coast rolling my luggage.  I guess I could roll it from the Tropicana to Flamingo without much fuss.  Just skip the treadmill that day.  Certainly I'd feel totally safe doing that.  It would have to be good weather.  I would not plan to do it in August.

on using two 24 hour passes for three nights of gambling.
However, right now the 24 hour passes are more than enough for me.  Often two of them will stretch into three days of travel if I get a late start out the first day and have one destination with walking for the second day.
The trick is to have the first ticket expire after boarding and not buy the other until hours later.  
This works for me if I decide to stay downtown but go to the strip three nights to play poker somewhere

From any downtown casino to the strip.
day one- out at 4pm and back at 2am
day two- out at 3:50 pm on the first ticket and boarding to get back on a new ticket at 2am
day three- out at anytime and boarding to come back downtown before 2am.

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