My photo
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 Comments that include websites will not be published.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, November 10, 2013

Just returned from Vegas

Walgreen's still sells 15 and 30 day all access passes, including senior discounts.  My 15 day was just under $18.

I had a good time in Vegas and rode buses often on my 15 day senior reduced bus pass.

The upscale week of my trip was all with cabs.  I learned that it is under $10 before tip  to get from the Orleans to the Aria.  That seemed really reasonable, and it was very quick.  In some cases, especially when four people are involved, cabs are cheaper than buses. 

However, Elizabeth and I cabbed from the airport to the Orleans.  It was more than I expected.  About $24 with tip.  I remembered to ask for no tunnel, but the fellow did drive leisurely and the lights along Tropicana were all red. 
He was milking us.

This confirms my bus intentions for solo.  It would have cost me just two dollars by bus, but at least a half hour and perhaps an hour more in travel time.
Elizabeth is not riding the buses.


I never took the ride I planned on the HDX to Sunset Station or Fiesta Henderson.  Perhaps I'll do it next time.  One bus driver told me that I should just get the HDX at the BTC, but I am unsure whether he meant just during the Life is Beautiful or always..

I've decided that the best advice to give tourists  downtown is to have them go to the BTC for either of these buses, simply because it is simple and unlikely to be changed.  In front of Binions is a bus stop that serves the SDX, the WAX, the CX and DVX and each one of these buses goes to the BTC fairly quickly from that location. 

Be careful to get off at the BTC as overshooting with some of the buses will put you a long way from where you want to be.
Then at the BTC the bay for the BHX is just inside the wall and there is shade to be found and seats and even a bathroom if you have time. 
I did.
So even though it backtracks the path of the bus, it may just be the most practical and easy for tourists who want to go up Boulder.
Sam's Town has a free shuttle as well.  I have not taken it and did not have times written down.
If you don't mind the old Western Casino neighborhood and are up at the El Cortez, then you can walk up  to catch the BHX there and save some time, but sometimes your bus stop companions may be a bit seedy. 
Going to the BTC puts you out of any bus stop issues.  You will find seedy characters on the bus, but there is an accessible driver now and for one of my trips there was a security guard so less difficulties for those of you uncomfortable with the lower middle class folks.


I used the WAX from this same Binions spot on the weekends to offset the strip traffic.  It comes every hour, but was predictable with one glance at the schedule posted at the stop.  the times I was going the bus came 26 minutes after the hour so that was very easy.  It is a simple ride to Tropicana.

They will not tell you that at the stop.  The RTC guides posted at the Binions stop particularly stress that the bus goes to the airport and not to the strip. 
I said as I boarded that that seemed untrue, and the bus driver first said that he had worked that corner and that to say it would be a strip bus for some opened it up to a million questions. 
That did not make much sense since those folks at the Binions stop answer questions all the time and shout out loud instructions.  How hard would it be once an hour to announce that the coming bus would go to Tropicana, NYNY, MGM, and Excalibur?
Then he said that the bus company wanted to keep that WAX from getting overcrowded so there was always room for passengers and their luggage.  That made more sense, but it was still disingenuous.  I wish that we could always get accurate, consistent, and complete information from the RTC.  If their time studies show the WAX is crowding up, maybe it could run every half hour.
On Friday and Saturday nights It was a real advantage to take the WAX and just walk from Tropicana to wherever I wanted to go.  It is a shame the bus company can't find a way to explain that to people. 

I was surprised that the nights I took the Deuce home from the Venetian there was no real crowd. This was not my experience last trip from that stop.
Once, after going to the Orleans and catching the SDX just North of MGM to go up to Riviera, I was not allowed entry on the first and fullest bus, but another came just a few minutes afterwards and it was not crowded.  Bumper to bumper traffic made it a long journey to the Riviera but it was not so bad.  I had  a seat.
I also had a good travel companion.
When I had asked the WAX driver whether to walk North or South for the SDX (lots of construction around there now and I wanted to be sure) this Vietnamese woman said I should just follow her as she was going in that direction.
She had recently moved from LA to Vegas with her three children.  Friends and family worried she would not do well, but she had a job at Home Depot, a 3 bedroom apartment that cost half the price of a one bedroom, and good daycare for the younger kids, some of that free at school.  She was very happy and would bring her mother out the next month.  She was happy too to have escaped a drug using husband.

There were so many changes this trip, especially in the BHX and HDX stops out of downtown.  Apparently the HDX can only be caught at the BTC or at the Outlet Mall as it gets right on 15.  And yet I saw a stop mentioned downtown at Ogden and Fourth.    This many have been a change only to accommodate the Life is Beautiful Festival.

Life is Beautiful; Not for bus riders
That was the concensus among locals forced out of their routine by this festival.  Buses were detoured.  Stops were closed.  It was really a nightmare and the routes were changed well before the festival started. 
To ride the bus up to Sam's Town I had to walk to Maryland from the stop at the old Western.  I was happy it was early in the morning.  Coming home, a guard on the bus suggested I get off at Maryland, but I opted out of that.  I was dropped at 3rd and Carson out of that risky neighborhood between the Western and Maryland.  I suggest that if you are staying at the El Cortez, you don't ask where the closest bus drop off is located.  Ask for the closest to the Fremont Experience and walk from there.  That is the safest, but the bus drivers and guards and locals will think that the physically closest stop to the El Cortez is the ideal suggestion.
I was stupid not to have gone for the Sam's Town shuttle bus going out, but I did not bring the schedule, and I was at the El Cortez.  The free shuttle  is faster than the BHX, but it only comes every hour and twenty minutes so wait time can erode the benefit. It is free, but that is a moot point for me as I have an unlimited pass. 

Coming back, I left from Eastside Cannery so the BHX was convenient and I took it again rather than walk to Sam's Town.

Sam's Town prints a fine little booklet with all that information.  I just had not put one in my pocket this trip.

The BHX bus is much different.  Those old user UNfriendly ticket machines are gone as well as 3 door boarding.  They board only from the front where there is a driver to ask questions.  Security hops on and off at random.  I like it better as the BHX does collect from the lowest economic class and always there are some rather unusual folks riding.  I like it that the driver is not all tucked away in his little cave.
I miss the HDX stopping at Sam's Town.  That has changed a 16 minute ride into a 45 minute ride.
I talked a long while with a security guard on the BHX and the driver there knew the routes. My morning driver had not been able to answer my questions, and did not read his electronic map well.

I rode the BHX back from Sam's Town on Halloween.  There were a few costumes on the bus.  A young guy from Denver was on his way to the Greyhound station, and I suggested to him that he walk there without getting bogged down with his luggage in the Fremont Experience crowds.  They were very thick on Halloween.  I should have taken my own advice and gone a back route to the Golden Nugget for a late buffet.


After the upscale week of my trip, I rode to the ariport with my wife in a cab.  From Departures I crossed the street to Baggage and found Ground Zero.
I just missed the bus from the airport by 6 minutes and had to wait the rest of the hour.  For the wait, I was prepared with a book, Francine Prose's Blue Angel (which has nothing to do with the Vegas Blue Angel) and the jumble letter puzzle from that morning's paper,  so the bench on a pleasant day kept me well entertained.  There was a long stream of 109 buses.  If I had not had the large suitcase, I might have taken one of those, but the WAX is so comfortable with luggage and such a fast ride that it is generally worth the wait.


I hopped on the SDX at Paris and sat in the seats facing the exit.  To my right were three girls who had been attracted by the Life is Beautiful Festival.  One was from Scotland and her accent was a delight.  Another sang songs and overacted the stage moves.  She was both funny and entertaining.  In front of them sat Mickey, a light skinned Black fellow with a huge frizzy Afro and carrying a backpack.
On came two from Washington state who had been married just 3 hours ago.  Both had T shirts with glittering "Bride" on one and "Groom" on the other. They were a bit of an odd couple, not classic beauties,  probably in their forties, short, with unusual faces.
He was in old jeans.  Both were delighted with each other and the day and the trip.  They were fun to watch.  At one point he turned to her and said, "Isn't this just a fun trip?"
Their joy touched me.
They had been together for two years and finally decided to marry.
Mickey gave them his seat, so they could sit together, and the Scottish girl with friends got wind of the circumstances,  so a fuss was made and photos needed to be taken. 
And "Going to the Chapel and We're Going to Get Married" had to be sung with stage moves acted by the one girl. 
Mickey moved back to sit by the Scottish girl and they both had a fine conversation.  He was not trying to hit on her, just be friendly. 
He had a backpack with what he called "bootleg" beer; it was Bud in a can that he sold on the strip for $2. 
The Scottish girl bought two cans, opened them and passed them up to the married couple to help them celebrate.
It was a reception of sorts with this motley collection of folks from all over,  all delighted to celebrate a wedding. 
I loved it.  I stayed quiet and just enjoyed the conversation, all the fuss and laughter and joking. 
I felt once again old. 
This entire crowd at the Life is Beautiful Festival has made me feel old.
Mickey was off at an early stop  to go home and watch "The Good Wife."
The rest of us were off near the Fremont Experience, at a stop on Carson, probably a detour and part of Festival changes.

Like the poker table, the strip buses give us an opportunity to meet, enjoy and interact with people from all over the world.  Many of them are out on a lark of some sort, happy and celebrating.  For me, that interaction is a large part of the trip.  I can't go everywhere in the world;  in Vegas, small appetizing bits of the World come to me.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.