Las Vegas Sun

October 18, 2017

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Have a comment about light rail? Driverless cars? RTC would like to hear it

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Submitted / Valley Metro Regional Public Transportation Authority

Phoenix’s Valley Metro Rail system, shown here, became operational in late 2008 and since has been expanded from 20 miles to 26. As Phoenix proceeds with plans to add 40 miles to the system by 2034, officials in the Las Vegas Valley have begun discussing proposals to establish a light-rail system here.

The Regional Transportation Commission is asking local residents for their input in developing a long-term plan to improve mass transit in Southern Nevada.

Kicking off what it informally describes as a listening tour, the RTC has scheduled two community conversations today on its On Board plan for transportation improvements in the Las Vegas Valley through 2040. The sessions will be held from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., both at the Nevada State Museum meeting room, 208 S. Valley View.

The plan is in the early stages of an 18-month development process, with RTC officials hoping to complete it in late summer or fall 2018.

Raymond Hess, RTC director of planning, said planners were hoping to get insights from the residents about how to enhance the current bus system and possibly develop other mass transit systems such as light rail, bus rapid transit or modern streetcars. The RTC also is interested in the community’s thoughts on development of emerging technology such as driverless cars.

Transportation officials say growth of Las Vegas’ population and tourism industry is driving the need for improvements. The RTC is basing the study on projections that the number of residents is projected to grow to 2.7 million in 2025 compared to 2.1 million today, while tourism will grow to 53 million in 2025 compared to 43 million today.

During the 2017 session of the Nevada Legislature, lawmakers approved two pieces of enabling legislation for the RTC to begin development enhancement projects in earnest. One bill allowed for private-public partnerships, while the other created the structure of a state infrastructure bank that would be used to finance transportation projects.

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