Public buses may not be best for some kids

Readers with suggestions on how to better the Las Vegas Valley’s transit system or ideas on how transportation can be improved in general often don’t know where to submit their suggestions or fear they will fall on deaf ears. There is no guarantee I’ll have better luck, but I’m happy to give it a shot and take ideas to the experts. Leo submitted this proposal:

About your column concerning the reduction of bus routes; I believe that bus routes should be increased, not decreased. I think a different tactic should be implemented. First, get rid of all or at least most school buses and have the bus transportation system offer school day passes at reasonable rates. If necessary, alter the bus routes so that the children would not have to walk more than a half mile. Have schools provide parking for bicycles. It could be part of the "Think Green" attitude and would be more healthy for children to walk or ride bikes to school. It would also reduce traffic. Is this possible?

According to the Regional Transportation Commission, students who would prefer to take public transit are already offered a 50 percent discount. Public transportation appears to be more popular with high school students and some middle school students. Obviously, this option probably would not be feasible for elementary students.

As far as the Clark County School District buying into doing away completely with its bus system, that’s not likely.

According to spokeswoman Cynthia Sell, the district keeps track of trends and alternatives related to transportation, but it has concerns about leaning too heavily on public transit. Few would feel comfortable with elementary students riding the public bus. And to charge for a ride, no matter how minimal, could create a hardship for some families. The sheer number of students could also place a burden on the Regional Transportation Commission. Of the 308,000 children enrolled in the school district, about one-third are eligible to ride the school bus.

Additionally, Sell said, federal mandates specify that the school district is required to provide transportation to special needs children. The safety of the children on public transit would require other considerations, and the district covers 7,910 square miles of the county and some areas are not covered by public transit routes.

Jerry wants to know the difference: I don’t understand why every morning the television news shows live feed of traffic on the freeways, but when I log onto the Regional Transportation Commission’s website before I leave to work, it says there is no access, the cameras are not working. What is up with that?

First off, the reason that live traffic feeds cannot be accessed by commuters is because the feed is being converted from analog to digital. During the transition, which includes updating software, the cameras cannot be accessed on private computers. The Nevada Department of Transportation, which partners with the Freeway and Arterial System of Transportation (FAST), expects to have the new software installed by summer.

Television stations purchased the technology to receive a live feed from the headquarters on Sunset Road. They invested in the technology but are not charged to access the feed.

Joe asks: I travel the Interstate 215 between Green Valley Parkway and Decatur Boulevard periodically. Lately I have noticed unlit electronic signs that are to show travel times. Are they to be functioning soon?

These are sprouting up all over the Las Vegas Valley, Joe, as FAST works toward providing the convenient messages on all stretches of our freeways in each corner of the city. Engineers are testing the signs that you noticed to make sure the travel times are accurate. They are expected to be in operation by the end of the month.

Mark has a couple of questions. First, he wants connectivity: When are they going to complete the work on the roads and new traffic signal connecting Volunteer Boulevard, Via Inspirada and Executive Airport Boulevard behind the Henderson airport? It’s been an ever-changing maze of orange cones, poor lighting and construction equipment for months, but it looks like they are nearing completion.

Construction at the intersection is now completed, but it is still controlled by four-way stop signs, which has caused congestion in the area, according to Kathleen Richards, spokeswoman for the city of Henderson. This project was delayed because the city of Henderson had to acquire private rights of way to access power for the traffic signals. The city expects that the signals will be activated by the end of March.

Secondly: And once that is complete, are there plans to add lanes to Volunteer from that new signal to Las Vegas Boulevard behind M Resort? That winding two-lane road will soon become connected to a four-lane road coming from Sun City Anthem.

No, Mark. Because development in the area has slowed as a result of the weak economy, the city of Henderson has no immediate plans to widen Volunteer to the west of Executive Airport Drive. If and when development in the Sun City Anthem area picks up again, the city will look at the possibility of adding lanes.

Contact reporter Adrienne Packer at or 702-387-2904.

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