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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 Comments that include websites will not be published.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, December 24, 2011

Downtown to the strip

Here is some advice to a guy going from downtown to the strip.  It may be helpful for you.

It is a lot easier to give good advice if you tell us your exact itinerary and the times you expect to use the bus.

Are you going by bus to a hotel?
Is it downtown?
How many days will you stay?
How many days might you ride the bus?
What times would you be riding (SDX and WAX do not go 24 hours)?
Where do you want to go on the strip?
How much walking are you willing to do?
Does going to Sam's Town or Eastside Cannery out Boulder matter to you enough to go there on the way to the strip making it overall a longer trip but perhaps free?
Do you want to be perfectly honest or are you willing to pretend to be a local, willing to be asked to get off the bus if you are discovered?

That being said, this might give you enough information. But I detect you hate buses and are frustrated and overwhelmed with the planning, so give us an itinerary and we'll sketch out the "best" possibility.

The Centennial Express crosses the strip at the Fashion Show Mall. Another quick route.

Both the WAX and the CX are residential buses, so the 24 hour pass is cheaper but technically not good for tourists with no local ID on the Deuce and SDX. I don't think you are a senior, so the WAX for you is $5 for 24 hours. RTC wants you to pay the big bucks at $7 a day or $20 for a three day pass to ride the tourist strip buses. The $5 strip accessed pass mentioned by Turtle is not one way but a 2 hour pass that will let you change buses within that time frame and I have seen bus drivers be lenient if you are a bit over your 2 hours. 
Most of us buy 24 hour passes as opposed to one way or 2 hour because we are coming back to where we started, or we are riding more than one bus, or we can use them early the next day. 

Are you going once or for a few days?
The 5 day pass is the best deal for tourist all access. $20 for 5 days as opposed to $20 for 3 days. However buying one is a chore. You can buy one at Walgreen's downtown or at the BTC or at a bunch of vendors around town. It is all access for tourists as well as locals. No local ID required.
Some of us take the WAX to the BTC from the airport on a one way ticket, then hop off and buy the 5 day pass or passes. Bought from a live person, it does not have to be activated right away, so if you want 6 days then buy a 24 hour pass at the airport and let it expire before you are going to use the 5 day. Or if you are going for 6 days and won't need the bus for the first 24 hours, buy an unactivated pass there. Walgreen's is sometimes out of them, so call ahead. Bought from a machine it will be activated when it comes out.
If you are going to come back to Vegas and want to avoid all this running around, buy an unactivated pass at Walgreen's or from a live person at the BTC and keep it for your next trip, activating it at the airport.
Or have some board buddy in Vegas buy one and mail it to you.
Some take a 109 to the SSTT. No people work there. But a machine will sell you the 5 day pass. It is unlikely this is the "best" route if you are staying downtown, but suppose just as you get to the airport stop the WAX is pulling away and you have an hour to wait for the next one, but the 109 is right there. Okay, take the 109, but make sure you take it South to the South Strip Transfer Station. From there you can buy a 5 day pass, take the SDX North to downtown and you are good to go.

With large luggage last trip I rode both the Deuce and the SDX and had no hassle. Christine at the BTC said if I ever got a hassle from the driver, than tell them because s/he "needs to be reeducated" However, if the bus is packed a driver might ask you to wait for the next bus. They do that even with no luggage.

Part of the new confusion is that there are so many options because there are so many new routes and many of them will get you to the strip. Don't worry about the end of the DTC. I never went once to the BTC after my first visit to buy my pass and I traveled every day for my 23 days on a 30 day pass that can also be bought at the Vendor's and is all access for locals and tourists alike. You do have to check to see where the stops are, but all the buses are available at stops downtown and all drop off in safe places.

I agree that you should avoid the Deuce unless it is early in the morning or you are picking it up at a very North Strip location. SDX is the way to go most of the time. However, I grab the Deuce at 7 something am from downtown to go to the early poker game at the IP at 8 because it drops me off right there and the SDX is not yet running. So, it takes a bit of familiarity before you know what to do.
And sometimes even then you don't know what to do. Twice I just took the WAX from downtown and the SDX back from Tropicana to get to Paris. It was there at the right time and I knew it was the fastest way even with the one stop back tracking. And there is a very easily accessed bathroom in MGM without the long walk that most casinos make you take to find a restroom, but that is another thread and as I said, I don't think you are a senior yet. 
I can't do two buses without a bathroom break.

And yes, this is all confusing and on purpose. The RTC does not want you using a 5 day pass, won't advertise it, and won't make it a convenient purchase. It is fashioned to serve the locals so they don't have to pay full fare anywhere as long as they buy a pass in their neighborhoods. This in spite of the fact that all the newer and best buses were bought and the routes built with tax dollars from all Americans, stimulus money. However, so far you are allowed to use the 5 day pass if you buy one.
You cannot buy one at a machine on the strip. You will not see it advertised on the site or at those machines. In fact, the site says it is not all access, basically lying. It took me months to get that down clearly.

Everything I said about the 5 day all access is also true for the 30 day all access. As a senior I get that for $30, so if I stay 15 days I might as well get the 30 day pass and be done with it rather than juggle three 5 day passes.

And that is the best way to go from downtown to the strip, on a 30 day pass because you are staying cheap for more than 14 days.

Hey, have a good time. Tell us what you did. PM me with a heads up as I am collecting all this information.
Oh, and while you are down there, make sure that the new Fremont Street coupons have a free Oscar steak as an option. I know you have the influence and can swing it.

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