Bus service partnership allows option for California trip

Try this on for size: You can now leave Summerlin in the morning and arrive in Los Angeles the same day aboard streamlined, comfortable buses for only $4. And if you’re a senior citizen, a disabled person or 17 or younger, the same trip could be discounted for $3.

Are you kidding me, you might ask, with your eyes as round as pizzas?

No kidding. And it’s happening every day.

Here’s how it works: You can park your car free at the Westcliff Transit Center Park & Ride facility at the corner of Durango and Westcliff drives, or if you prefer, you can park free at the Suncoast, 9090 Alta Drive. Both facilities provide security.

Then hop onto one of 23 daily airport-bound buses from either location that will take you to the bus terminal at McCarran International Airport, following brief stops at Fremont Street, the Premium Outlets and the Strip at Tropicana Avenue. Under normal circumstances, that ride would take about 40 minutes.

“At the airport bus terminal, you would board the No. 109 Maryland Parkway bus and get off a few minutes later at its first stop, which is the South Strip Terminal at Gilespie Street and Sunset Road,” explained Angela Torres, government affairs and media relations manager for the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada. The two bus rides combined would cost you $3, or $2 if you qualify for the discount.

“From the South Strip Terminal, you could board a Megabus.com coach that leaves four times a day to Union Station in Los Angeles, with only one stop, in Riverside, Calif. That ride –– on comfortable, new buses, including double-deckers –– could cost you as little as $1,” said Mike Alvich, Megabus.com’s vice president of marketing and public relations.

“You reserve your seat online by punching into Megabus.com. And if you buy your ticket anywhere from 30 to 45 days in advance, you should be able to get a seat for $1. I might add that even if you buy a seat sooner and pay a nominally higher price, you will still be paying less than the lowest airfare to Los Angeles.”

It used to be that many folks viewed buses as an uncomfortable and smelly way to travel. But when the transportation commission initiated airport service from the Summerlin area in December 2010, with 140 parking spaces at the Westcliff Transit Center and ample parking for persons leaving from the Suncoast, a new era in mass transportation was spawned.

To say that the airport bus has been a success is putting it mildly.

“We average about 900 riders a day on the airport buses, and that number keeps growing,” Torres said. “Many are commuters, especially from Summerlin, going to and from work. The bulk of riders start as early as 5 a.m., and we go right up to midnight.

“Now, with the convenience of Megabus.com, people can travel by bus in comfort from anywhere in the Summerlin area to either Riverside or Los Angeles.” She estimated that under normal conditions –– depending on weather and traffic –– the ride from the Westcliff Transit Center to the South Strip Terminal would take “just a little over an hour.”

“The RTC is not directly affiliated with Megabus.com. It’s more like a public-private partnership,” Torres said, in which the two sides accommodate one another. “We want to see Megabus.com succeed. They have four buses a day that leave the South Strip Terminal for the two cities in California.”

Alvich explained that Megabus.com is a subsidiary of Coach USA, the largest bus company in the U.S.

“We pride ourselves in providing the most comfortable travel accommodations for the lowest fares,” he said.

Summerlin residents who have taken the bus to California support those contentions. Alvich told of a woman traveling from Los Angeles to Boston who changed her plans after hearing about the bus to Las Vegas.

“She canceled her flight from Los Angeles and instead bought a ticket from Las Vegas to Boston. Then she took one of our buses to Las Vegas and flew to Boston out of McCarran. She saved a lot of money.”


Herb Jaffe was an op-ed columnist and investigative reporter for most of his 39 years at the Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J. His newest novel, “All For Nothing,” is now available. Contact him at hjaffe@cox.net.