Big Bus narrowly lost a chance to operate on the Strip.
In a 4-3 vote, the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada’s board of directors on Thursday rejected a plan that would have allowed the private bus company to share three stops with the popular Deuce and Strip &Downtown Express routes for up to four months.
Clark County Commissioner Larry Brown, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman and North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee voted in support of the proposal, saying the four-month pilot program would have afforded an opportunity to determine whether tour bus operators could reasonably co-exist with RTC bus lines.
“I really thought it was a long shot that it would work out, but it was an opportunity once and for all to get all the data, get the information,” Goodman said. “It really would have answered the question ‘would this fly?’”
Virginia Valentine, president of the Nevada Resort Association, told the RTC board that Big Bus could negatively affect hotel and casino workers who rely on RTC buses to get to work.
Also, several drivers who work for Keolis — the company contracted by the RTC to operate buses — voiced frustration that the stops are often occupied by unauthorized vehicles.
Allowing Big Bus’ double-decker buses to pull into RTC stops, the drivers said, would create confusion for tourists who might not be aware of the difference.
Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani said she voted against the plan because Big Bus would create direct competition along the Strip with the RTC’s Deuce and Strip &Downtown Express routes.
The dual RTC-operated tourist lines are among the most profitable in the country, generating up to $9 million in profit annually and helping to pay for residential service in other parts of the Las Vegas Valley.
“We’re going to hamstring ourselves if we’re not careful,” said Giunchigliani, whose district includes the northern end of the Strip. “More importantly, it’s about the quality of experience for our tourists, and I don’t think you want to add more confusion for them.”
The rejected contract would have allowed Big Bus to pick up and drop off riders from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. daily at RTC-operated stops in front of Fatburger restaurant at 3763 S. Las Vegas Boulevard, Planet Hollywood and a Walgreens pharmacy at 2427 S. Las Vegas Boulevard.
Big Bus would have paid a company to study ridership patterns.
Big Bus had tried to reach a deal in 2014, but the RTC board said the company should directly negotiate for its own stops with the city of Las Vegas and Clark County. At the time, the sightseeing company couldn’t reach an agreement.
“Of course we’re disappointed about the failure of being able to move forward, but we will continue our efforts and hopefully have it back here at a future time,” said Las Vegas attorney Kimberly Maxson-Rushton, who represents Big Bus.
Contact Art Marroquin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0336. Find @AMarroquin_LV on Twitter.