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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 Comments that include websites will not be published.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.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

old 5 day bus passes.

Keno reports that the 5 day pass he bought before they stopped selling them worked just fine on the buses.  Good news for those who thought to shop ahead.  There is no telling how long these will be good.  So far, so good.

Monday, October 22, 2012

To Red Rock by bus

The new Sahara Express bus is a comfortable ride from the area around the old Sahara casino all the way to Red Rock.

Board friend Pluto from Scotland describes the route this way:

We caught the SDX (Strip and Downtown Express) from the side of Binion's Hotel and got off at the old Sahara Hotel. Then we walked round to the nearby McDonald's and the bus stop for the SX (Sahara Express) is just outside of it. It takes about 50 minutes to get to Red Rock on that bus so we normally take a newspaper and a book with us to read on the bus. It stops right outside Red Rock and the return stop is just across the road. To save waiting at bus stops for too long we buy a timetable when we first arrive so that we know what time the buses are due and I would say that overall the buses usually run on time.

Here is the route and schedule:


Friday, October 19, 2012

Bus Passes that are all access

I received three reports from well done interviews of BTC clerks and the news on 15 day and 30 day passes is that they are all access without the need for a local ID. Senior passes of course demand the senior ID.

Here is the note from Weas:

Hi Dewey,

Just back from Vegas. I went to the BTC on Sat. 10-12. I spoke with Cristy. She indicated the 15 day reduced fare ticket was good on all routes including Duece, SDX. I asked her this twice and twice asked don't you need a local NV ID for it to be valid on Deuce and SDX, she said, "No, only a senior id."

She also said all denomination of coins are good on the bus, although she didn't know about the Sacagawea dollar coins. She asked how long I was in Vegas, and I said, "5 days." She indicated I would come out much better buying the 15 day reduced fare ticket for $17.50. I once again asked about it being all access and she said," Yes."

I obtained my senior fare id, in the past I have been able to obtain the old 5 day pass at Walgreens with my DL and medicare card.

Although I had a car my first four days, I returned it on Wednesday and took the WAX to the Suncoast. I put my $1.00 in and the driver wasn't interested in seeing my senior fare ID.

While downtown I notice a lady checking passes at Binion's stop and giving people information. Unlike a former poster she did not appear to have an attitude but was just being helpful.

I hope this information is helpful and valid when you go to Vegas.

Yes, very helpful indeed.

Keno 60 reported the experience this way

Just got back. I am going to make this quick! Went down to Bus center asked about 15 day pass it is all access! I asked 2x and looked at the machine outside the center and it said all access! I did not try to use 24 hr. res. on the strip. I was able to purchase a 5 day at the Walgreens downtown and they said they would sell them till they ran out! I questioned and they said " if it doesn't work bring it back".


And Pebbles too asked the questions and received similar answers:

Pebbles wrote: "I went to ask the other day and they assured me that the 15 day and 30 day passes were indeed all access. All the shorter duration passes require local ID. "

I'd say that this puts to rest any worry until the next time the schedules and rates change, certainly no sooner than a year from now.

Many thanks to all three of these investigators. Note the 24 hour residential pass still requires a local ID and the fact that the website chart forgets to star the 15 day pass is just an error, perhaps intentional.
15 day passes for seniors at $17 sure beats a 3 day strip pass at $20.
These can be purchased in machines at the SSTT, at the BTC, or at the downtown Walgreen's as well as many other vendors around the city. Most don't overlap much with tourist itineraries, but taking the 109 from the airport to Flamingo will put you near a Walgreen's and an Alberson's that would sell them a pass for the rest of the journey. Here is the list of vendor's. Always call ahead and ask if they still have them.

And I think the promotion that gives you breaks in downtown eateries if you show you bus pass is still in effect. Four Queens especially honors these passes although for seniors it is a wash because they discount seniors at the same rate. Check with the provider to see if they will give the discount. Call before you go if you can. Sometimes it takes them a while to check this rarely used coupon deal.

Thanks again Keno60, Pebbles, and Weas.


Oh, just a note on the Sacajawea dollar coin. It does work in the bus coin boxes. Some riders find it easier to carry and drop coins when their hands are full than to fiddle with threading a dollar through the machine.

trip report using buses

Sometimes to learn about the benefits of a place in this country, we need the intelligent resourcefulness of someone from abroad.
Like Scotland, for example.

This trip report has more bus details than the rest of my blog

And it illustrates that Vegas visitors do not need a rental car to go where they want to go.  They just need a bus pass.
They paid $65 for the pass that will cost me, at senior rate, just $30 for 30 days of unlimited, all access travel. No need to be awake for the ride let along sober.   No tips expected.  It is the best deal in Vegas.

Also, there are some interesting details on riding the bus to places most Vegas bus riders never try.  It is a decent thread to gain some bus ideas and perspective.

Monday, October 15, 2012

15 and 30 day passes are all access.

Board member Pebbles writes that she asked the questions of what passes were all access at the RTC and here were her answers

Pebbles wrote: "I went to ask the other day and they assured me that the 15 day and 30 day passes were indeed all access. All the shorter duration passes require local ID. "

Saturday, October 6, 2012

From Keno 60 direct from a visit to Vegas

"Went down to Bus center asked about 15 day pass it is all access! I asked 2x and looked at the machine outside the center and it said all access! I did not try to use 24 hr. res. on the strip. I was able to purchase a 5 day at the Walgreens downtown and they said they would sell them till they ran out! I questioned and they said " if it doesn't work bring it back...

I was asked for my senior pass when I put a dollar in the WAX and said reduced fare. They had officers checking passes at the bus stop for the WAX, SDX near Binions"

Saturday, September 29, 2012

As we approach the change in rules, schedules, regulations

Helpful is to define our questions clearly and understand that we will disagree on which questions matter to us.

The first set of questions have to do with the rules and rates and regulations. Basically, those of us asking these questions are asking what is the law of the RTC. The questions include defining the existing kinds of passes, the prices, the senior discounts, and what types of travel the passes allow. Normally, such questions are easily answered, but this has never been true for the RTC. Answers by phone and email contradict each other. Answers in the printed book or on Facebook or via email have been incorrect. Answers given directly in person at the BTC, if we get a clerk who knows the rules and if we remember to ask all the nuances, have been the most definitive.
There are as many as three people who have agreed to ask for clarification in rules and rates in person in the month of October. This is the set of questions that matter most to me because most people new to the buses want to know what the rules are rather than how to break them with impunity, and those are the folks I work to advise.

The answers to these questions have tended to be hard to nail down in the past. The printed books have been wrong or changed quickly after publication. The on line charts have been wrong and stayed wrong over the course of a year. The phone and email answers have been full of contradictions.
To nail down definitive answers I suggest face to face personal questioning of RTC clerks who actually know the new rules and can speak intelligently about them. I suggest that it helps to tell the person that you are going to write these up for a few hundred readers on a discussion board and on a bus blog, and I suggest you take the names of the people you talk to. My past experience is that Christine at the BTC was just wonderful, while other clerks have run the gamut between uncertainty, confusion, apathy and functional brain impairment.
Also be prepared for changes during the year and for another set of rate and rule changes to define again next year at about this time.

This is also true for changes in routes and schedules. I still feel bad about going to Vegas one November, telling someone at a bus stop that the Deuce no longer goes downtown, but Deuce route had been changed as I was on the airplane coming to Vegas.

Change is common in Vegas and the RTC is no exception. Confusion is more common at the RTC than any other Vegas organization I know.

The second set of questions have to do with enforcement.
What rules will be enforced by drivers and what will be ignored?
There is no way to nail down anything definitive for this category of rules.

For example, Keno is going to take a residential 24 hour pass and use it on the strip buses. This is clearly against the rules for tourists and has been against them. He expects that he won't be asked for a local ID as Merlin insists has been the practice. If he manages this half a dozen times while he is on this October trip and does not get caught, perhaps he'll suggest what Merlin suggests, that breaking the rule about having a local ID is fine because the drivers don't ask.
Whether they ever ask can't be answered.
Whether they will start asking as more and more people decide to break the rules will continue to be unknown.

A third set of rules is what are the penalties for breaking rules. If it is being asked to leave the bus, perhaps for some that is a mild penalty and they will just risk it. If it is a hefty fine, that may discourage rule breakers.

I will know less about the last two sets of questions than other posters, because generally I like to define the rules and follow them, and always I like to give advice that reflects a clear understanding of the rules, offers that clarification so difficult to nail down, and lets me know that I am not giving advice that will cause anyone pain and suffering. I won't be suggesting criminal behavior, but I wish the miscreants of bus riding successful journeys.

We do know this much:
On September 30, the 5 day passes are no longer available.
There will be 15 day passes and 30 day passes on residential routes.
Dollar American coins are fine in the fare boxes. They are officially allowed and they work.
Locals can use any residential pass ie, 24hour, 15 or 30 day passes, on strip buses by showing a local ID, and can get reduced fare by showing a reduced fare ID issued by the RTC.
24 hour residential passes are sold on residential buses when we board.
15 and 30 day passes will be sold at the BTC, the SSTT, and a whole list of Vendor's around Vegas ( 7/11 stores, Walgreens, Albertsons), all of them in local areas away from the strip and intended to be for locals but probably not restricted to their use on residential buses. However, even this question has received contradictory answers from the RTC.
In strip machines, the higher all access strip bus prices will be charged for 24hour passes or 3 day passes. These are good on residential buses as well without question. No senior discounts are available in these machines. Senior discounts are only available on 24 hour passes sold by drivers, or 15 and 30 day passes sold at the transfer stations or by Vendors.

Those of us who want to clarify the rules need to know this:
Are 15 or 30 day passes good for tourists on the strip buses (Deuce/SDX)?
Are tourists still able to use the senior ID to get a discount on 15 and 30 day passes and are these good on residential buses without local ID?

Those of us who want to break the rules might want to ask?
Will bus drivers actually ask for a local ID ever?
What is the penalty for not having a local ID if asked by a driver?


Once we know what the rules, regulations, and rates are, we can then devise strategies that will work within the rules. 
These strategies will include:

How can residential bus routes serve us best?
What free shuttles and trams can be pasted together with residential bus routes to make for frugal travel around the city?
When do paid shuttles, cabs, limos, rental etc make more financial sense than the buses, and what added benefits in comfort and convenience or risks come with each separate form of transporation?

One new strategy:
Those of us in Vegas for longer than 31 consecutive days, who have a local address during that time, may be able to get a seasonal local ID from the DMV for as little as $6(senior rate.) I'll know more about that over the course of this year. Right now it looks like these ID's require a proof of identity (passport/birth certificate) and some other paperwork, a local address, a willingness to wait a long while at a busy DMV while a photo is taken, after which the local ID is mailed to the local address and only to the local address.
Perhaps I'll expand my 23 day trips to 31 day trips and stay with one of my relatives during those days. I expect the DMV will be more consistent and clear on the procedures and rules around these local ID's than the RTC. Once again, I am personally more interested in what the rules and regulations are than how they can be broken or what penalties might be incurred by breaking them.

We can keep talking about all this, but I'd suggest we simply wait a month and see what we find out.
Thanks to all of you who have agreed to report what you hear from face to face questioning sessions.
If you find clarification, could you let me know?

More detailed information is on this thread

Friday, September 7, 2012

Web site changes

Keep in mind that many of the schedules will change on October 1. Also, if you have old links to routes and schedules, they upgraded the website and none of the old links work. Now you go to the main page

Chose the "transit ride with us" letters and click.

There in the "plan your ride" boxed section (which is a really useful search to find the routes to those out of the way restaurants in reviews) the one line at the top brings up all the routes.

During the last change in rates and schedules they were a few days updating this, so if you are going to Vegas at the end of the month, on the cusp of the change, just be aware that things are changing. If I read the route changes correctly, there will be more 202 buses and that makes me celebrate since my new strip is Flamingo Blvd. However, the new schedules have not been posted.

WAX delays

Recently reported delays in the WAX.  If this is a pattern rather than an abberation, we'll have to take a new look at this route.

Also, some take the 108 if it comes first.  Here is my calculation on 108 vs WAX.  Maybe I have the math right. Probably not. But it's my mathematical story and I'm stickin' to it:

RTC estimates the trip from the airport to downtown casinos on the WAX as 26 minutes.
The trip on the 108 just to get to the Bonneville Transit Center is 38 minutes, and then we have to walk or get on another bus to get to the casinos. Most of us will not want to walk with luggage from the BTC to downtown, but even if we are up for that, taking the 108 means walking fifteen minutes while waiting for the WAX means sitting.
I imagine any of the buses to the casino area to be at least another 10 minutes with boarding and waiting. For me it means offloading an 80 pound suitcase and loading it again on another bus as well as having to pick which one to take.(not the 107) I'd rather just sit at ground zero, get on and get off near Fremont.

So I estimate the difference in trip time to be 22 minutes with the 108 coming in the slower option even if it is right there at ground zero when we arrive. It we wait say only 10 minutes for the 108, ( which comes about every half hour) well...... now the 108 saves us just 6 minutes on the trip over the WAX.

It depends on whether we want to sit at ground zero longer or ride the bus and hold on to our luggage longer and then reload it.

The WAX is cheaper if we just want a one way ride. $2 as compared to $5 for youngsters. If we are going to change buses at the BTC because we picked the 108, we will want one of those 24 hour passes. Well, we could get away with $4 by paying again at the BTC for another one way pass.

So using an extra 6 minutes to ride the SDX bus saves us at least $2. If I have my math right, that means by sitting at ground zero on average we will earn at least $20 an hour (but we would need to do that for ten trips to get one hour's pay.) Still, it is better odds than the slots.

However, if we have business at the BTC, ie, Having our photo taken for the senior ID pass, or asking some bus questions (like whether our residential 24 hour pass we just bought on the 108 is good on all buses or whether a five day residential pass might be good for us on all buses,) or talking through a trip we are planning, or picking up a new schedule book, or checking out where we are going to store our bikes, well.... the 108 might allow us to get all that done right at the beginning of our trip. Some of us might never visit the BTC again.

If before we leave, we write down a portion of the bus schedule for the WAX for the rough times we would expect to arrive at ground zero, we can use it to make informed decisions on which bus to take once we know our actual arrival time at ground zero.

WAX does not run an hour apart on the hour. That is just an estimate.
Consider your airport arrival times to get a sense of how long you might wait.
Times between WAX buses can be as short at 26 minutes and so shorter than the wait for the 108.
For example, I expect on my usual run from Albany to Vegas that I would most likely catch the 5:42PM WAX at ground zero. If I miss it, the next bus is 26 minutes later at 6:08PM.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

New Rates

Effective September 30, 2012 the fares for the bus will become!/rtcsnv/app_4949752878


Strip & Downtown Express Service and Deuce on the Strip Service:
  • Increase the fixed route Strip 24-hour All Access Pass from $7 to $8
  • Increase the fixed route Strip 2-hour All Access Pass from $5 to $6

Note that the 5 day pass is gone, replaced by the 15 day pass.

I'm still trying to find out if the 15 and 30 day passes are all access for tourists as well as locals.  RTC never wants to let that information out in any public way.  I suppose they are afraid that informed tourists will get a good deal.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Fare increases for end of September

The bad news for tourists is the 5 day pass is replaced with a 15 day pass. The good news for seniors is that the huge rate increase projected was scaled down to a flat 50% so we can still get a good deal on the 15 or 30 day passes. Whether they are all access for tourists will be another pulling of RTC teeth to answer because even when that is the rule, the RTC hates to admit it to anyone and will never advertise that deal. Promised also are more buses along my favorite route, the 202, with a new schedule coming into effect, along with the other changes, on September 30.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


There were many bus changes this year.
However, I think I am up and current on enough bus information to make this a viable blog again.
Don't hesitate to make comments that ask questions or correct errors.
I hope this is a helpful guide to using the current bus system in Vegas.
The usual tourist routes were not changed with the new change of service.
However, there is a proposal for radical rate changes, probably not to come in to effect until September 2012.  Near that time, check to see what is current.  I'll post what I know when I know it.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Avoid strip buses with heavy luggage Flamingo eateries

I rarely advise against bus travel, but my rides on SDX and Deuce with my huge suitcase were uncomfortable.  I took one from the SSTT to Paris and that might have been okay had I positioned myself in the middle of the SDX where I could exit in crowds without difficulty.  I sat in the back and it was a job getting out.
The Deuce I caught at Venesian to take downtown and I could barely get in the bus.  No one would move back.  Finally I managed to bet my bag wedged into the space next to the seat the faces the middle door and then I was good, standing, until I got off at Carson.

Going from downtown to the strip and getting off across from Harrah's was very easy.  That bus did not seem crowded.  I'd do that again.
But if I start my 22 Vegas nights at Imperial Palace again, I'll take the 109 to Flamingo, buy my 30 day pass at that intersection at the Albertson's of Walgreen's and then take the Flamingo to the strip.  Those buses are never as crowded as strip buses.

Although I rented a car for a week of my 23 night stay this past time, I still got my $30 in value from riding the bus the rest of the time.  And it was fine to have the pass in my wallet and not have any hassle looking for it to ride the SDX or the Boulder buses to Sam's Town. 

Going there too I'd advise using the HDX to get to Sam's and then taking the Sam's shuttle back or making a plan on the strip and getting the 202 from the Cannery.  I just did not like the feel of that Nellis bus stop, and the BHX is just so much longer.  Especially late at night the 202 to the strip and a strip bus home again after perhaps a bit of food at Ellis Island or poker at Flamingo seems the most comfortable ride to me.

Here are eateries I listed along Flamingo, accessible on the 202.

Weiner Schnitzel
Panda Express
Zoba's Mexican Grill
Chill n yogurt
REd Lobster
Buffet Asian
McDonald's classic
Olive Garden
Blueberry Hill Dine
Long John Silver
Raising Cane
jack in the Box
Mint india Bistro (Swenson)
Bucadi Beppo
Mortan Steak House
Bahama Breeze
Hamap of Japan
Fogo de Chao
McCormic and Shmick (across from Tuscany)
lawry's Prime Rib
Tuscany Cantina

Note too that we can transfer to the Centennial Express at Maryland to take us downtown.  The schedule needs attention or there is a long wait for this one.  it does not run from a bit after 11 PM until about 7AM

Note too that there is a library along the Flamingo route.  I think it is at the Algonquin stop.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Buses around the Stratosphere

I owe someone a big apology on these stops. I thought the stop alongside Denny's was a shared SDX/ Deuce stop, but it is a shared 108/SDX. I caught my error on the thread that mattered and reported my confusion before the person went from the airport late at night.
However, I feel bad to have remembered in error.
The Deuce stops heading downtown on the other side of Denny’s.
I carefully checked out the bus stops around the Stratosphere, and I hope I have the right details now.
The easiest way to explain the stops is to position yourself in the intersection where all roads meet (Las Vegas Blvd, Main St. and St Louis) and face the Alarm business that has been there since 1950 and is likely to remain a landmark.
To your left and off the LV Boulevard is where the SDX drops off from Downtown and picks up on its way to the strip. It is right in front of a Carl's Jr. fast food, so that makes it seem a safe stop even at night as Carl's gives you a place to duck into if your street smart hackles rise for any reason just as Denny’s does in the other location. Denny's has the added advantage of having large windows where you can watch for the bus and other people can watch you.

To your right and in front of the Stratosphere is the stop where the Deuce drops off on the way from downtown and picks up for the journey to the strip.
This is a very safe spot.
You could stay in the casino while waiting for the bus. The stop is just a few steps from one casino door.
Behind you at the Denny's is that shared 108/SDX stop. Denny's is open 24 hours and the stop is right in front of glass windows, so you would never be waiting there alone.
The stop that drops Deuce traffic from the strip to downtown is located behind the Denny’s.
This one still seemed safe to me.
There is also one farther South from where you are standing and directly across from the Stratosphere main entrance. It might seem to some just enough isolated and unlighted to be worrisome after dark. And it can't be accessed from the Stratosphere by just crossing the street. To access from our position facing the Alarm business, you would have to cross over to the Alarm business and walk a bit South on the Blvd.
Were I using any of these buses I would not exit the Stratosphere by the main door, but work my way back to either the door near the Deuce stop or one farther back that leads into the parking lot and is almost across the street from the Denny’s.
I don't want to overly concern anyone, and I don't expect trouble right around the Stratosphere, even at night. However, just a few short blocks away there is trouble every night. So you never know.
I could have been killed walking midday to the Deuce stop on my way to check things out. I was on the right side of the sidewalk when without any warning a guy in a golf cart like motorized vehicle flashed right by me at a speed in great excess of anything that should happen on a sidewalk. Had I just staggered left at the wrong time, he would have knocked me down, and at his speed, could have killed me. Just a little bell or horn would have helped keep me safe, but many local drivers in Vegas figure tourists are expendible. There always seem to be so many of them in the way.
Also note that the 108 stop right near Denny's makes getting to the Stratosphere from the airport a short bus ride on a bus route that comes much more regularly than the WAX. This is an isolated casino, but for bus riders it is well positioned. Downtown from the Stratosphere is an uncrowded bus ride at any time, and coming back even early in the morning is very safe with the dropoff just steps from that casino door.

I did not check out the 108 stop heading back to the airport. I can see it is not far, but I did not check for safety issues.

Also, for those who arrive by air during the SDX running hours(until midnight anyway,) this is an alternative route to downtown. Changing to the SDX here is easy. And if you arrive hungry after a long flight, and want a quick bit at Denny's, it is a fine route.
The crowded conditions I experienced putting my luggage on the SDX from SSTT to Paris would not apply as the crowds are gone by the time the SDX reaches the Stratosphere and the 108 winds its way out of major traffic areas and would rarely be crowded.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Now is the Time to Tell them

The Vegas bus company wants your opinion and they have put out a blank sheet for you to add your comments.
Write them something.

Read the proposed fare adjustments.
Scroll to the bottom and write them what you think.

Here is my note to them:

Here is my answer to their request:
The most frustrating part of these changes is that tourists are so little valued that there is no language to address the rules for them.
I can't tell you how long it took to get a definitive answer on the 5 day pass as to whether it was all access for tourists or not. Phone calls, emails, Facebook all disagreed until finally I went to the BTC and had it spelled out. Then just last week a fellow made three calls to your office. Two said the 30 day pass was all access for tourists and one said he would be put off the strip buses. I write for 5 Vegas discussion boards and promote buses. Cabs are hated for the long hauling, and buses would be a logical answer, but all this confusion makes people nervous, so they just take a cab. Couldn't you make clear in this new proposal whether tourists who buy 15 day passes for the residential corridor also can use them on the strip? We did not miss the move to make two classes of bus riders pay two sorts of fees. We got it when the reduced fares were eliminated on tourist routes and we get it that eliminating the 5 day pass slaps short term tourists in the face. And it irks us because we know that while you are hurting for local money, the federal stimulus (all our tax dollars) allowed for an amazing renovation of routes, buses, transfer stations. Since the money came from all of us, we think that the fares should be the same for all of us. But at least include us somewhere in the proposal. It is like we don't exist. We don't have local ID's. What passes at what prices are available to us? And especially seniors.
I also think that reporting in the news that the rate increases are to be shared by all interested parties and then raising the 30 day pass 40% for the old, handicapped, and the children while raising it just 7% for the rest of the riders reeks of insensitivity.
I'll post your answer where a few hundred tourists can read it.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

7 - 11 now sells the 5/30 bus passes

But no the one next to Ellis Island is not selling.
Las Vegas NV 89109

I can't find a phone for this place either.

However, going to the link in the announcement and calling the 7-11 stores to see where they are located may give us some new places to buy the all access reduced fare passes.
Don't expect too much.  Remember that there is a planned strategy to keep tourist reduced fare users from these passes.
At least until sometime in September when all bets are off.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Safe to walk the BTC to Downtown casinos?

Interesting discussion on this thread that includes talk of taking the bus after midnight from the airport to downtown.

It is interesting to me that those who answer that it is perfectly safe also reported that they never lock their houses at home, leave the door open when they do shopping, and find walking from the strip to downtown after midnight safe as well.

I remember when I used to drive a car in Vegas and head from the strip to downtown after midnight, I'd almost always see a couple policecars, three of four miscreants spread out on cars. I would not want to walk through that, especially when police cars were not present and the miscreants unretrained.
So, for me, those posters lost credibility by including those other behaviors. They further convinced me that the walk from the BTC to downtown after midnight was a poor decision.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Why I don't often rent cars in Vegas

Once again I find that answering a person who has asked why we rent or don't rent cars on one of my boards, makes for a good collection of the my thoughts.  So here they are.
Those of you who know me, know I like the buses.
I can go to any casinos on the bus.
Folks who think they are stuck on the strip, just haven't taken a good look at these options and the destinations are increased now because the buses are faster and easier and the new routes just wonderful.
Think how far $30 takes you in the rental. It will give me bus transportation for a month. I say 23 days.

My favorite new bus trip is riding the HDX from downtown to Sam's Town. It is a residential route with SDX-like buses and takes under fifteen minutes. One stop at Sahara and the next is Sam's Town. Amazing!

I figure a rental car costs me about $40 in missed alcohol on the days I choose to drive and on the days I don't drive, well, then I lose all I've paid for the car.
Of course, I know people who know they can drive even after drinking a few.
Their self confidence is not too reassuring to me. I think it would piss me off to stay sober in a place that gives free alcohol only to get hit by some idiot who did not stay sober.

I push myself to the limit in Vegas. I am often overtired. On the bus I can nap. Driving tourists, like me, may be drunk or overtired, but even if they are well rested and sober, they often do not know where they are going and do unusual and erratic things. They are unpredictable.
My local relatives hate that, and so when they drive, they are in road rage much of the time and do their own erratic passing of bewildered tourists. Somehow, an enraged local guy in an oversized SUV spinning out and around some bewildered rental car driver doesn't seem safe to me.

The safety issue gets worse when you look at accidents.
Of course, if you are really good driver, you figure you can avoid accidents, right? Well, a high percentage of fatalities and debilitaking injuries occur from rear end collisions when one car is stopped. All the defensive driving in the world won't help us if we get rear ended while we are stopped at a light.
One statistic I found was that the odds of dying in a car versus those in a bus for Vegas were 40-1.

Finally, I researched the ins and outs of car rental insurance. It is a mess. The loss of use insurance on your credit card may not be paid unless the car rental company sends them a log of their rentals for that period, and car rental companies usually refuse to send the log as they want to protect their business information from competitors.
Loss of value is not covered by any insurance (but can be avoided with those CDW that double the cost of the car) so it is possible to do major damage to your rental car, have your own car insurance cover the repairs, have the rental company decide not to make repairs but sell cheaply, and be left with loss of value to pay.
There are also instances where rental companies invent damage that did not occur and try to recoup it from you. They might invent it long after the car is returned and not send you the bill until after the time has elapsed for your insurance company to be involved. (accidents need to be reported promptly) Taking good photographs before renting which include the date and one shot of the odometer help, but if you get caught in this mess, it is a hassle.

The valet parking attendant is not covered by your car insurance.

It is all a long gamble, like a slot machine jackpot, only a bad thing when you "hit the jackpot.".
I am not a good gambler in the real world. I don't mind losing my bankroll, but I don't want to put anything else at risk.

Then what is a negative for many in bus riding, is very positive for me. I love to watch people and to interact with strangers. I love the conversations that happen on the rides. Since I go solo, I meet people on buses and at low limit poker tables easily and often. They may be from anywhere in the world. The bus is in some sense just a stage for a reality show. Locals are generally friendly and I get a lot of tips from them about where to eat or visit.

So, I limit my car rentals in Vegas to one day of my 23 day trips. I like to rent a car, go to Red Rock, hike Calico Canyon, then see something at night that is off the bus routes(like the Silverton Pro Bass shop) , and then move my luggage the next morning, say from Imperial Palace to a downtown casino.
I leave for Red Rock directly from the rental area and soon am far away from the worst of the Vegas drivers. I take secondary roads that have little traffic. I best like to pick up a Budget car at the airport and deliver it the next morning to the Golden Nugget.
Busing with an 80 pound suitcase and a computer strapped on my neck is not too hard, but avoiding it at my age is helpful. And one such trip in the middle can give me half a trip on the strip, half downtown, and no bused luggage, just a roll from deal to deal in those two locations.
Sometimes delivering it at the Nugget is more money than taking it back to the airport. Sometimes it is not. If I return it to the airport, I take the WAX back downtown but without luggage. Along with first delivering my luggage to my next casino, I deliver a nice case of water and maybe some snacks for the room that I bought from Target on the way to Red Rock.
Often I pay the CDW just to be totally safe. It just gives me total peace of mind, so that the road trip is worryfree.
Waiting and hoping to get a royal is great fun. Waiting and hoping not to get into an accident isn't fun and it cuts into the carefree attitude of the trip.
And if I get in an accident with the CDW, my own car insurance premiums will not be raised to help the insurance company over perhaps the rest of my life, get back a bit of the money they paid to fix the problem.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Another raise in fares is being considered

Of course, there is no indication of where the tourist fits in this new structure.  Would the 15 day pass be all access?  Who knows?
The elimination of the 5 day all access pass would get rid of the loophole of all access for savy tourists.

Why Gold Coast is a great location

Gold Coast looks far away; however, it is an excellent location for bus riders. There are the free shuttles that operate during peak hours. One from the Gold Coast and one from the Rio.Even one from the Palms. I have read about that one, but not taken it. It can get us North to Fashion Show Mall but it runs just twice a day. 10 AM and 5PM.
The 202 Flamingo bus can be caught from right in front of the Palms and across the street from the Gold Coast. This not only gets us to the strip, but it gets us all the way up Flamingo to Ellis Island, Tuscany, Terribles(and a short walk to Hard Rock) and even to Boulder highway for Sam's Town and Eastside Cannery.

Going in the opposite direction is uncommon, but there are some interesting restaurants out West Flamingo. Nora's Italian restaurant is just 11 minutes away.

Taking the free Boyd shuttle to the Orleans and then the bus along Tropicana gives us easy access to the strip at a more Southern point, or a ride to the Pinball Hall of Fame. All of this can be done without the higher priced strip buses on an inexpensive 24 hour residential pass which for seniors with ID is just $2.

The Tropicana stop in front of NYNY is another way to access downtown quickly on the WAX bus as it comes from the airport. It only runs at certain hours, but it is very quick.

And unlike the free shuttles, the buses run 24 hours. They might be only every hour in the late night/ early morning, but they can get us back to the Gold Coast (or back from the Gold Coast) after a long night of gambling.

And for Boyd lovers without cars, I've stayed at the Orleans and rolled luggage to the Gold Coast. it takes about a half hour, but is not a bad walk. I just don't do the treadmill that day. I have also taken the Arville bus from the Orleans to Flamingo and then out to the Super 8 with luggage. This is easier than staying a the IP weekdays and the Super 8 on weekends and rolling in between.
I have to pay attention to schedules so I don't wait too long for any bus, but the Gold Coast is an easy destination or starting point.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Latest from Jimbo

Jimbo is on the Vegas Messageboard and is a veteran bus rider who finds out much of the details that help folks ride the bus and get the discounts.  Here is his latest report

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Walgreen's on the strip will not sell 5 or 30 day passes

I've called a couple, including those nearest to the center. The last girl said that she did not think any Walgreen's on the strip sold the passes.  They were all sold off the strip.
A strategy for the war on tourists.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

(note: anything I say about 5 day passes here, is also true for 30 day passes. Those are the only two options at Vendor sites)

Connell, one senior blog reader wrote me, asking how to do this. He took the advice and wrote me again to thank me. It was in an earlier post. Somehow I can't access that post or the comment section, so in case readers were having trouble too, I made a new post.
I'm glad this worked for you Connell. Keep enjoying Vegas buses.

I am going to assume that you already have a photo ID issued by the RTC, a photo ID from your local bus route at home, or a Medicare card. If not, then the BTC is your destination because you want to get your picture taken and get their ID. It takes about 15 minutes and is good for 5 years.

So with the ID already in your wallet, consult this list of vendors.

None are anywhere near the Gold Coast, but when talking about 5 day passes, there are no vendor's anywhere near the Gold Coast or anywhere near the strip. This is done on purpose to make it inconvenient for tourists to buy and use these inexpensive passes. The RTC would like tourist seniors to pay full fare and so offers no discounts that can be purchased on the Deuce or SDX routes. the 5 day passes are meant to serve the needs of locals, but there is no restriction on using them without local ID as long as you are willing to take the time to find a vendor.

So, one way to buy 5 day passes is to take the 109 out of the airport and stop at Maryland. One of these vendors, a Walgreen's, is near Flamingo and Maryland.

Near there too is
1300 E. Flamingo Rd.
Passes Sold:
5-Day & 30-Day
Full Fare/ Reduced Fare

Call first to make sure that they have passes. Sometimes the vendors are out of them.

At the airport hop on the 109 and from the driver ask for a senior one way ticket. This will cost seniors $1. Have correct change.
Get off at Maryland, find the Walgreen's or Albertson's and buy as many passes as you think you will need for the trip. Then board the 202 and go to the Gold Coast and you are set with all access 5 day passes good on both the residential routes like the 202 and on the Deuce or SDX. Be sure to only activate one pass in the first five days of your travels. Keep the other in a separate place for later activation. If for some reason you don't use that pass, as long as you don't activate it, you can use it when you come to Vegas the next time. In fact, it may be a good idea to buy an extra pass that you can activate when you hop on any bus at the airport on your next trip. You cannot buy these online and get the senior discount.

There are other vendors along Flamingo if you find the Vendor is out of 5 day passes. If you have a different location on Flamingo, the 24 hour pass from the 108 or the 109 bus driver at the airport will let you find your way along Flamingo. And this is really inconvenient right off the airplane, but it might happen. I suspect that the Maryland vendor will not run out very often. That Walgreen's downtown runs out most likely because it serves tourists so predicting pass sales is difficult.

The map on that RTC site is interactive, so if you see a location you think you like, click on it and it will give you the address, phone number, and whether they sell both 5 and 30 day or only 30 day passes.


If you feel you will be too tired to bother with all this the first day, or if you don't want to ride buses with luggage and will take one of the pay shuttles to the Gold Coast, there is a Walgreen's downtown and there is the BTC. Both places will sell a 5 day pass, but remember you have to get to those places from the Gold Coast and to do that by bus, you technically have to pay at least the $5 two hour full fare ( no senior discount) for a one way trip downtown on the Deuce or the SDX. Seniors do not get any discount when riding the strip buses if they buy passes in machines or from drivers along the strip.
If you are going downtown within the first 24 hours you are in Vegas, you can chance trying to use a 24 hour residential pass you bought from the 108 or 109 driver at the airport if you used one of those routes to get to the 202 from the airport and then to the Gold Coast.
This 24 hour residential pass is not like the 5 day pass. It is technically only good on the Deuce or the SDX if you have a local Nevada ID. However, I have never seen anyone asked for a local ID when showing the pass. The worst that would happen is you might be asked to get off the bus at the next stop and buy a $5 two hour pass; however, I am guessing that if you nicely told the inspector you just wanted to get to the BTC to buy a 5 day pass, s/he would let you go that far. If I already had a still valid 24 hour residential pass, I'd try this and hope any inspector would not care if I was a local resident or not, but just whether the date on my pass was current. If I got asked for a local ID, I would just play dumb. Don't board the SDX with an expired pass. If it has expired, it is no good, tourist or local. And that might get you fined.
If you decide to do this, catch the SDX in front of Paris because at least you will not have to swipe your pass as you board, and perhaps you won't have to show it at all because inspection of passes on the SDX is hit or miss.
Also, the SDX is the fastest way to get to the BTC or to the Walgreen's downtown.
If you intend to buy the 5 day from the Walgreen's downtown, again call ahead to see that they have not run out of passes. It is more likely that they will run out than it is that the Walgreen's on Flamingo and Maryland will run out, since the downtown Walgreen's is the only vendor of the 5 day passes that is anywhere close to normal tourist routes.

Technically, to go downtown from the Gold Coast, you would need a $5 two hour full pay ticket good on the Deuce of on the SDX.
Or you might pay the $7 for a 24 hour full fare all access pass right at the airport either in the machines or from the driver. Specify what you want. You might like that if for the first 24 hours you were going to hop around the strip area, and then you could use that to get downtown for the 5 day passes.

I got confused on one thing that Christine said at the BTC in November. She said that buying the 5 day pass at Walgreen's did not activate it, and she recommended I buy one for my next trip, so I could use it right off the airplane. However, I did not clarify if buying extra passes at the BTC would work the same way. I can't see why they would not, but it is worth asking that question because if they activate upon selling them at the BTC, (rather than in a machine before we board the SDX or on the Deuce as we board,) we don't want to buy two or more for future use.
This is a good system for some people.

An alternative might sound crazy, but I might do it.
Suppose you are at the Gold Coast, ready to buy a 5 day pass, and don't have any residential pass to get you downtown.
I might get on the 202 and buy a 24 hour residential pass ($2 for seniors with RTC ID or Medicare card.) and ride it for 45 minutes to Sam's Town on Boulder. I might poke around that casino or the Eastside Cannery and then hop on one of the new Boulder buses to get downtown. The HDX is the fastest but you have to walk to Flamingo and Boulder to get it. It stops at Sahara and then goes downtown. The BHX is slower as it stops all along boulder Highway, but if you want to see Boulder Station or Arizona Charlies, this is the bus to take.
All these buses, unlike Deuce and SDX, are residential buses with the senior discount. Buying the pass from the driver on the 202 is advised because the machines on the HDX or the BHX buses (no driver to talk to) are a bit tricky and if directions are not followed perfectly will take your money and not give you a pass.
It only saves $3, but if those places are in your itinerary, well ..... it saves $3.
One of the things to consider when buying a 5 day pass is when to buy and use it to get maximum benefit from it. If you are a planner and have worked out which days you will be in one area or another, then you can plan your 5 day purchases around that plan. If you experience Vegas in more of a serendipitous manner, then working out when and where to buy one or more gets more complicated and the inconvenience of the purchase accomplishes what the RTC intends.
I go for 15 to 23 days, and lately I am focused on sleeping downtown even though I play poker on the strip, so I just get a 30 day pass at the BTC or Walgreen's, after I hit downtown on the WAX. For $31 I am set for each trip and I don't have to think about passes as long as I don't lose that 30 day pass.
I liked that system very much on my last trip. I kept the single pass in one place and just used it anytime I wanted a bus. Most trips in Vegas I get lost in timelessness and often don't know what day it is, so having one pass and nothing more to think about worked great for me.

If you are going to take a bus from the airport to the Gold Coast and you just happen to see the WAX come up when you are at the airport, you can take it to Tropicana and then take the SDX from in front of MGM and then take the 202 from in front of Caesar's. Three buses might be a bit much. But it might not be any longer than 108 or 109 to 202. One advantage is that you are closer to tourists when at bus stops. I don't expect any problems out Flamingo at bus stops, especially at Maryland, but those stops close to the strip don't attract as many weird characters. If you decide to do this, buy an all access pass for $7 and you can use it to get downtown to buy your 5 day pass anytime in the next 24 hours.

Also, there is a way to use the vending machines at the SSTT which is at the South end of many bus routes, a transfer station like the BTC but with no live people working there.

I have not done this, but this indicates they sell the 5 day passes there in the vending machines.
These machines will offer a menu that includes the senior discount.
This discussion of buses includes a description of getting passes at the SSTT.
scroll down to the post by Teacher 1

A $1 ticket on the 109 going South would get you there in seven minutes, and from there with a 5 day pass in hand, you could take the SDX with your new 5 day pass to Flamingo and then the 202 to Gold Coast. But I have not done this and I don't know for certain that the vending machines there sell 5 day passes. I'll see if I can find out.
Again this is three buses, but it keeps you close to tourists and probably does not hold you up too much. The longest wait will always be for the 202. I like to wait closer to the strip when I am with luggage.

While the Gold Coast is not as easy to get to as downtown from the airport by bus, once you are there with a bus pass, it is a great location. The free shuttle that runs from The Gold Coast to the Orleans and then to the strip can be linked with the 202 Flamingo and the 201 Tropicana for great strip flexibility. I usually end up going to some show in the V theater and being able to hop on a shuttle to the Orleans and then the 201 to the strip at Tropicana saves me all that crazy Deuce overcrowding.
Also, at Tropicana about every hour we can catch the WAX bus to downtown, or ride up to the Tropicana on that bus. It saves a lot of traffic and time as long as we pay attention to the schedule and don't wait at the bus stop for too long.
Also, you are staying at the Rio and they have some good free shuttles to various strip locations as well.
They go to Harrah's so that is yet another strip location easily accessed from the Gold Coast area. Here are some shuttles. You might note that from Harrah's you can go to Sam's Town, so it is possible to get from the Rio to Sam's Town for free and then from Sam's Town to downtown for free. This would save any bus fare and put you downtown near Walgreen's. Here is a good site for the free shuttles. However, these run only at certain times, so you have to do some planning to use them efficiently.

If you take the 202 from the Rio, use the stop across from the Palms, just as you did when you were riding from the Gold Coast. It seems counter intuitive to head away from your destination, but if you exit the Rio and turn left, expecting to find the next bus stop, you will walk all the way to the strip before you find it. The Rio is not a city bus friendly casino. There is a bus stop right in front where you will be dropped by the 202, but the Rio entrances require a long walk one way or the other to get back in the casino. Check this out before you are coming back in the dark so you know where you are going when the bus drops you off. At the Gold Coast the 202 drops right at the parking lot.

Okay, lots of choices. All of them good from a frugal standpoint.
Hope this was helpful

Friday, January 20, 2012

Combining free shuttles with buses

Here is a great site that is constantly updated. I was happy to see that today they finally got the new free shuttle from the airport to Sam's Town which has been missing for a while.

One advantage is that there are great maps that can be printed out and taken along for reference especially since timing is often crucial unless you want to wait a couple hours. Boyd shuttles don't run early in the morning.
Another is that they make as clear as possible when a shuttle is just for hotel guests and when it is not, even when one that says it is for hotel guests will more than likely accomodate others.

Combining free shuttles with city buses can give you a great deal of mobility and save money and crowds or set up routes that allow you to see casinos that you might not see. For example, I might leave the Flamingo/LV corner, head out to the Orleans for an afternoon buffet or perhaps some senior citizen play and then take the 201 to the strip at Tropicana/Lvb for a show at the V theater.
Somepeople combine the Sam's Town shuttle to get from downtown to the strip. They can ntake the free shuttle to Sam's, spend a bit of time (say at the Toast of the Town free Thursday show) and then take the free shuttle to Harrah's. But they can also take the new Boulder buses to Sam's or back from downtown, or take a Flamingo 202 bus to Sam's from the strip or back. This gives more flexibility in time.
Or suppose you take the Boyd (no longer Coast) shuttle to the strip from the Gold Coast or vice versa and stay until 1AM. The shuttle is no longer running, but with a good schedule from the RTC on when the 202 is running, you have flexibillity without depending on the cabs.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sam's Town free shuttle update

Twice a day Sam's Town has a free shuttle to/from the airport.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

MGM to downtown for a night visit

If you are just visiting downtown to see it, the time to go is at night. It is pretty dull during the day. The light show livens it up and there are sometimes bands and entertainment right under the canopy at night as well as vendors. It gets especially rocking on weekends when there may be three bands playing along the walk under the canopy.

If you leave from MGM, the fastest and easiest way to get downtown is to wait for the SDX right in front of the MGM as that will be very fast. It has fewer stops than the Deuce and is usually less crowded. It boards differently as well so that takes less time. You buy your twenty four hour pass from a machine there on the street at the stop (correct change or charge card only), hop on the bus at one of three entrances, and ride to downtown. An inspector may pass through and ask to see the bus pass. The SDX won't run after about midnight so coming back, you will probably need to take the Deuce.


Or you can walk over to NYNY and pick up the WAX bus on Tropicana right there in front of the circle. This is the airport to downtown bus and the fastest ride downtown. There won't be any characters on this one, hardly anyone at all. It runs about once an hour. Check the schedule.

You will see that the last WAX leaves about ten thirty.

The 24 hour pass for the WAX bus could be bought from the driver for five dollars, but technically that pass won't be good on the Deuce that will probably be the bus you will choose to take you back to the MGM, so you may want an all access pass at 7 dollars just to be on the safe side. Locals with a local ID can use either on the Deuce. Many folks here have used the five dollar pass and not been asked for a local ID. I have never heard of anyone asked for local ID, but want you to know about the technicality.