Wednesday, February 19, 2014

People are movin and that's just groovin

“People are movin and that’s just groovin- I like to ride the bus!”

Black Camaro fans will recognize this lyric from their song “I Like To Ride The Buss” ©2004

Never heard of it?

Dear Friends,
I know that many of you would sooner die than to purposefully use public transportation in Las Vegas. OK, maybe die is a little extreme, but chances are that you do not utilize our public transit system when common sense, frugality and responsibility should dictate otherwise. Granted, your reasons for resisting the alternative to vehicle ownership are probably very accurate. I won’t go into those reasons here, I have heard all of these woes before and I do understand how you feel. Believe me.

Rather than dwelling on your past experiences, please allow me to share with you 9 reasons that I like to ride the bus. I could have had 10 (or even more) but I have always been fond of the number 9. I was born in the 9th month, my youth soccer number was 9, my junior high computer was #9. Revolution #9, 3 times 3 is 9. And 9 seems like plenty of good reasons to convince the willing of what they might be missing when they cling to their automobiles.

#1. Safety. While safety was not one of the initial reasons for opting out of vehicle ownership, it was immediately apparent how much safer one is travelling inside a bus, rather than operating a vehicle or even riding in someone else's. Las Vegas drivers are stereo-typically more reckless than many other cities (something I always attributed to the immense transplant population) and rather than combating this perilous situation with slower streets, shorter blocks and efficient mass transit, the RTC of Southern Nevada decided to make every thoroughfare a super highway with minimal pedestrian access. And while there have been a couple of tragic collisions with bus stops, of 114 traffic-related fatalities in our community last year, not one of those people were riding the bus when they met their demise.  

#2. The watchful eye. No doubt you are familiar with “people-watching”, a fabulous Las Vegas pastime popular in airports, casinos, shopping malls and just about everywhere including riding the bus. But even better than people-watching is”city-watching” ™. Particularly on the Westcliff Airport Express, but also on any route, take an elevated seat near the rear and watch the city go by, taking mental notes of what is new and old in our ever-evolving city. I love being able to stare out the window without needing to pay attention to the road.

“Wow! Steel Engineers is gone?”
“Look! Fletcher Jones is being demolished.”
“What is that moving in over there? Another Dotty’s!?”

It’s not just big picture stuff either. I see friends and neighbors going about their business, stealthily while passing by unannounced in the anonymous people-mover.
I seeeee you.

#3. Colorful bus drivers are entertaining characters. Not always, but quite often, you are greeted by a jolly man or woman who has a wealth of knowledge in the most obscure areas of expertise. Or maybe a playful flirt who makes the ladies blush.

#4. Personal meditation time+travel+exercise=excellent multi-tasking.  Much like the city and people watching, I enjoy a little quiet “Me time” where I can reflect or read or close my eyes. Meanwhile, I am still getting to my destination while doing so . So many of those motorists I see from my window seat appear very sleepy and I recall many drowsy commutes of my own, which makes me feel sorry for them in their crunch to get where they are going. That and it is clearly more dangerous to be operating an automobile while sleepy.

#5. Eavesdropping. Oh boy. I tell ya… the things you overhear while riding the bus!?! Be aware, however, that different routes cater to different folks and depending on which route you are travelling on, will determine just how raucous or still silent the carriage will be. Charleston, for example, never a dull moment, while Alta is comparably very calm and quiet.

#6. The people of our city. As previously prefaced, different routes carry different valley residents and love em or leave em, being this close to some of our neighbors who are in the lowest possible socioeconomic condition is humbling and makes me appreciate the little things that we take for granted day in, day out. I feel much closer to my community this way than if I were traveling alone (in my own little world), isolated from my surroundings. Many people likely feel “safe” travelling this way, but I prefer the lively feeling I get being surrounded by other humans.

#7. Taking it slow. Within two hours of time, I will have walked at least two miles, taken care of my shopping errands, enjoyed a quiet lunch overlooking a golf course and enjoyed approximately 54 minutes of personal reflection time aka time spent riding the bus. As I re-read what I just wrote, I feel that I have to clarify that these are all welcome events to my day. The long walks, the peace and quiet, gazing at the city from my bus window. All good things.

#8. R.W.I. (Riding While Intoxicated) If you have seen the latest national ad campaign for Las Vegas, it turns out that we are a city of “Enablers”. As it is, I am in no position to argue with them. As self-medicating individuals, the only sane decision for us is to opt out of driving, so that we may safely imbibe anytime and anywhere we so choose. Let’s stay alive and outside of prison.

#9. Going Green. Honestly, it had not occurred to me initially that we would be drastically reducing our carbon footprint by opting for public transit over vehicle ownership, but it’s very true. #9.5: “Footprint, shmootprint. Climate change is a liberal myth.” you say? Well, for you, I say that spending $3-$5, 4 or 5 times per month sure beats the cost of gasoline, insurance and general vehicle maintenance. Going green with cash is a surefire way to pick up your spirits!


Just 4 blocks south of Bonneville Transit Center and easily accessible by RTC routes 206 (Charleston), 108 (Paradise), The Deuce and Strip/Downtown Express.



  1. Your primers on using our public transportation systems, once humorous and insightful, now beginning to make much more sense this week in terms of its relevance to those of us living downtown...why aren't we using the system? Until you started writing about it, I just didn't think about the system being of interest to us, with our three vehicles.
    However...after spending $550 in January for the truck's 80k and thinking that would do it for awhile, only to hear today that it's back in the shop for some U-thingey drive shaft whatever, at an astronomical repair pricetag, well, our 'general vehicle maintenance' costs just tipped from outrageous to what-are-we-doing Crazy.
    Using the system sometimes for transportation won't solve those ridiculous problems, but may forestall them by taking some of the strain off our vehicles for local trips...
    So, thank you Michael, for taking some of the mystery out of how to join you in using the transportation system...keep up the RTC hints and reminders!

  2. Thank you, JC. Very happy I could help.