We sometimes get asked why we always travel to the agencies we cover for our cover story. And during these budget-tightening times, we question it ourselves to see if it’s something that needs to continue or something that should be modified.
Visiting Las Vegas and touring the system was an affirmation of why we do it this way. Every system is good to see firsthand; every agency has a story to tell. But with the city of Las Vegas being such a world of its own, it was the first time I really noticed how transit is different there.
From the initial occurrence I tell about in the cover story where tourists are clearly impressed with such a “futuristic-looking vehicle,” there were so many little things I had the opportunity to observe beyond talking to the folks at the transit property.
On the ride to the hotel, I was sitting next to a couple that was in Vegas from Vancouver, celebrating their 52nd wedding anniversary. She was very friendly, chatting for most of the trip and had asked why I was in town. When I told her my reason she told me how they had been getting around everywhere on the buses and how great it’s been working for them; it takes them everywhere they need to go and it’s inexpensive. She did tell me to be sure to mention that it would be even better if they could come more often.
One evening I rode on the strip in the upper deck and just watched the people. The bus was always full and there were always people in the front taking pictures or shooting video from their camera. The service really is like an attraction of its own.
It’s great to meet different people at the agencies, see what they show you, and to see how excited they get about it. It reminds me of a post a transit Facebook friend put on my page one time, “Only transit geeks could love such a thing.”
And sometimes, it’s so true. While everyone can love and appreciate something like RTC’s new LEED-certified Bonneville Transit Center or the bike shop and all its amenities, it’s things like the bus-only lanes, bike lanes getting painted green, or a line at a stop in mid-day that we probably get more excited about than the average person.
Not only seeing the details of a system, but just like every day in transit, there’s always something happening. While touring FAST in Las Vegas, a high school computer programming class was also there to get a tour of the facilities and learn more about the networking and technology behind the traffic management system.
Another transit-geek-love moment was seeing the group of teenagers excited about what they’re learning. Along with them I saw firsthand how the technology allows RTC to manage traffic and mitigate congestion.
While a picture may be worth a thousand words, being there is beyond measurement.