Snow tells a story of when he was in a park while in Hong Kong talking to a lady, asking her how she got to the park. She responded back, in Cantonese, that she took No. 11.
“I said, there’s no bus No. 11 that comes to this park,” Snow says. And he explains she held two fingers up, them turned them down to make them “walk.” He adds, “The slang in Cantonese, if I took bus No. 11, it means I walked.
“Every trip that we take begins with bus No. 11,” Snow stresses. “If people can’t access the bus stop safely because the sidewalk isn’t there or it’s not wide enough or it’s too close to the street, it’s going to be a problem to sell transit.”
Snow says, “You might have heard of a guy named John Inglish [CEO, Utah Transit Authority], well I’ve seen him go out on the road preaching about transit, but the last few years he’s been talking about how we need to look at transportation ... to form these bicycle-pedestrian authorities.”
Snow says they’ve assumed that role by building sidewalks, widening sidewalks and putting in bike lanes. “To us a street isn’t complete unless it serves everybody, not just automobiles.” He states, “Every mode of transportation needs to be designed for; it needs to be designed for pedestrians and cyclists, as well as automobiles.
“That’s a big effort for us, to make transit that much friendlier for those that need to take bus No. 11 to get there, and once they get dropped off, they take bus No. 11 to where they’re going.”
RTC is excited about a new bicycle-sharing system that will add access to the system. Getting people to transfer stations with bike racks where people can drop the bus, get on a bike and ride to their ultimate destination. Snow mentions they’ve been working with a major employer downtown that has contributed a million dollars toward the effort. He adds, “We’re really excited about expanding that program in the valley to improve access.”
The RTC has used 5307 formula funds to pay for new shelters to improve the amenities. Initially the RTC had no influence over the bus shelters because it doesn’t own the street rights of way. “Even though we fund them, they are owned by the city or the county where the road is and the sidewalk is part of the right of way, too,” says Snow.
The city or county had private companies come in and put their own equipment in and it wasn’t very nice, wasn’t maintained, the city or county would keep the revenue they generated and that would go into their general fund. Snow stresses, “We would never see any revenue, yet we receive all the complaints and we get all the hassle and we have no control.”
Snow says State Sen. John Lee didn’t like the situation and changed the law and gave RTC complete authority over bus shelters. There were half a dozen contracts that terminated at different times and as Snow says, “It was just a mess.
“We put a lot of resources into it,” he says. “We subscribe to the window theory, which means if the bus shelter out there ... looks like it’s not functional and it’s tagged with graffiti and it’s not well-maintained and there’s garbage around, we can’t attract a customer. We need to send the right message to attract customers.
“Image is very important, especially in Las Vegas,” Snow says. “And if it’s a hard sell for transit, parking’s free everywhere you go, we’ve got to up our game that much more.”