Las Vegas Sun

April 24, 2019

Currently: 72° — Complete forecast

COUNTY GOVERNMENT:

Cuts put focus on cost of rides across parking lot

Shuttle

Sam Morris

As falling revenue presses county officials, they’re looking for things to cut, and the shuttle bus that takes workers and visitors to their cars in the government center parking lot recently came under scrutiny.

One lonely government worker faced east on the sidewalk lining the Clark County Government Center Friday at 3 p.m. waiting for the bus — the shuttle bus that would take her from the front of the county building to her car, a few minutes’ walk away in the parking lot.

The county has two shuttle buses that cart employees and the public to and from its parking lot south of the government center. It’s a short ride that takes the place of what would otherwise be a short walk.

From the county building’s main entrance, it’s about 725 footsteps, 5 minutes’ walking time, to the far end of the parking lot, a distance of 0.2 miles.

“I think it’s a waste,” the young woman said with a shrug while awaiting the shuttle.

The shuttle has been in operation almost since the county government center opened in 1995, said Don Burnette, Clark County chief administrative officer.

The shuttles run from about 6 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., carrying more people during the early mornings and late afternoons. Few are seen on the bus midday.

And yet it shuttles on and on — at a cost, of course.

Faced with lower tax revenues, the county’s real property management department this year reported that eliminating the shuttle would result in savings of $415,752. That would come from the elimination of one part-time and three full-time positions, saving $152,000. Eliminating supplies, fuel and maintenance costs would slash $63,000. And not having to replace the aging buses, at $100,000 each, would save $200,000.

County commissioners appeared torn on it. Tom Collins said the savings wouldn’t amount to much. Chris Giunchigliani said last week it was something the county needs to examine.

Steve Sisolak last week expressed surprise that a shuttle even exists.

“People can’t walk from their cars to the building?” he said incredulously. “I mean, come on.”

He said he walks from the outside parking lot most days for the exercise.

And he doesn’t have to. Adjacent to the north side of the county building and virtually hidden from view, the county provides a tiny parking lot for commissioners. Another 222 parking spots are immediately east of the building and under shade structures.

“So what do you think the rank-and-file employees are going to think if we get rid of the shuttle, while we have these parking spaces right next door?” one county administrator told he Sun. “Think about that when it’s 115 degrees outside.”

Not to worry.

After the Sun started putting this story together, County Manager Virginia Valentine sent an e-mail to county employees late Friday, saying she had made “the very difficult decision” to cut hours of shuttle service but not to eliminate it.

Beginning April 27 the shuttles will operate from 6:45 a.m. to 8:15 a.m., then from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., reducing operational time from 12 hours to three hours.

In the next fiscal year, beginning July 1, the county will save $70,030 in operational costs. The change will also extend the life of the shuttles, putting off replacement another two or three years. Employees are not expected to lose their jobs, a county source said.

And people like the young woman boarding the bus at 3 p.m. will just have to walk.

“I don’t mind,” she said, declining to give her name. “I don’t work in this building anyway. I work in a different county building.”

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