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Averill park, New York, United States
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 Comments that include websites will not be published.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.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Thoughts on the Bus compared with Car Rental

For me the bus rides are a fine part of the adventure of meeting strangers.  I like that as much as the gambling.  On live low limit poker tables it happens as well.  I was joking with three guys from Norway who paid $1000 in air to get to Vegas.  
"See,"  I said, "I've saved a grand because I get to meet you guys here, so I don't need to go to Norway." 

So the bus is like that.

But frankly, until this trip I was looking to shift my hotels to maybe long stretches at Super 8 close to where I play poker.   I thought the new BTC and the new decision to not give senior bus fare rates to tourist seniors was pushing me away from staying downtown.  Also, I have always thought of Flamingo as my main strip, but that bus service has been reduced.
Now the Gold Spike gives good value (even though it does charge a resort fee) that competes with Super 8:  free wifi, nicer heated pool, TCM and other stations on the TV, nicer room than Super 8. And it gives me location now as well.  I can get to Sam's Town in 12 minutes as contrasted with about 45 min. from Bill's on the 202.   I can get to and from the strip is so many ways that one of them will be ready and fast whenever I want to go out. 

And when I compare to a rental car:
By being able to drink, I gain about $40 in the value of free alcohol every day.
By being able to sometimes go on 3 hours of sleep a day, I actually realize more time at the poker tables than I would if I were driving and needed to rest.
I nap on the buses coming back to downtown because at the end they empty the bus at Fremont and I can't oversleep the stop.
So I am not certain that I would gain any time were I to go to Vegas for just 5 days.
However, playing live poker is different than popping around to play a bit here and a bit there on slots.  It requires an hour at the table to even know the competition well, so long hours are common for poker players, especially low limit.  At Flamingo I once changed tables twice to get the kind of opponents I could beat.  That takes time in one place.

So, I've totally switched back to being  a downtown guy again as long as I can get the good prices at the Gold Spike and patch in freebies.  
The host at Four Queens told me that I had gambled enough to get offers even though not enough to get my fourth night comped.  It was $24.  He also told me that if I took more rooms as a Binions poker player I could extend my stay at $24 a night without extending the need for gambling to keep my score high enough for mailings.  
Then I seeded the Fitz this time.  So I may get offers from them as well.  It is going to be owned by different folks, but still I might get offers.  Check out and Check in time from the Fitz means crossing on tiny street.  It is easy and can be easily coordinated with suitcase not brought out until the next room is booked.
So, the check in and check out waste of time, that seemed to be associated with moving from freebie to freebie,  is pretty much eliminated.  
If I can do a week at Gold Spike with no play, but rooms at $21 and $36 a night, and then do a week at Four Queens with 3 free and the others at $24. And add in two nights on the El Cortez coupons at $34, then my largest move might be to a Caesar's casino that has given me a couple free for poker play.  I have pretty much decided to not bother with free rooms at the Orleans.  That is too hard a move with heavy luggage.
My only other issue was if I felt safe coming back late at night to bus stops downtown.  I do.  They are all comfortable.  So that eliminates the need to go to the BTC and catch a bus to downtown from there.

I do have to walk sometimes a few blocks for a bus stop, but I've parked a rental in Vegas where I had to walk just as far from the parking lot, and then try to remember how to get back again to the car, and remember where I parked, and wake up enough to drive safely.

Cabs for a solo traveler are really expensive in comparison, especially if the trip is from the strip to downtown or to Boulder Highway.  For one such cab fare I can ride all month on the buses and go anywhere I like.

I understood the old argument that short term visitors to Vegas might not want to spend time on buses, but the bus time has been reduced by about 66%.  So for solo travelers who will pay just one fare everytime they move about, this is a good way to go.  
And all this does not even get into the built in insurance of the buses.  In Nevada, fatality statistics show 47 to 1 in favor of buses.  And for most fatalities it does not matter how well you drive.  They happen at stop lights when you are rear ended.
And then there are all sorts of insurance loop holes that make folks liable who think they have insurance.
So I also get peace of mind on buses.

I know this is not the way to go for many folks.  It is especially not the way to go for folks who need to be protected in a middle to upper class community to be comfortable.  Buses are middle to lower class communities and mixed racial experiences.
Of course, I like that part.  Those are more my people.  

But time is less of an argument.  In 23 days I rarely waited longer than a few minutes.  Once I waited 40 minutes and everyone was outraged, but that was on the 108 and a bus had broken down.  Rental cars can break down or need to be returned. That has happened to me with rentals in Vegas.

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