Thursday, May 18, 2017 | 2 a.m.
Downtown Las Vegas is getting another transportation option.
Las Vegas City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved $550,000 in funding for a free shuttle service connecting several downtown spots, including the Arts District, Fremont East and the Mob Museum. Dubbed the Downtown Loop, the pilot program will comprise two 19-passenger shuttles that will run nine hours a day, seven days a week.
The proposed stops for the Downtown Loop are the Arts District, Bonneville Transit Center, Las Vegas Premium Outlets North mall, the Plaza Hotel & Casino, Mob Museum, Fremont East and Pawn Plaza.
The city is paying the entirety of the pilot program, which will run for six months, at a cost of $275,000, with an option to renew for an additional six months for another $275,000. The Regional Transportation Commission will administer the program using private contractor Keolis, which currently operates the city’s fixed-route bus service and the autonomous shuttle pilot program.
DOWNTOWN LOOP PROPOSED HOURS
Monday through Thursday: 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Friday and Saturday: 3 p.m. to Midnight
Sunday: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The Downtown Loop is expected to launch mid-June.
According to Director of Public Works David Bowers, the goal is to evaluate the Downtown Loop’s ridership and economic impact after six months and see whether downtown businesses are willing to contribute their private dollars to keep the circulator in operation permanently.
“We’re trying to increase the economic viability of downtown,” said Bowers. “We want to see more people visit the Mob Museum or Pawn Shop Plaza, to go to lunch more often. It goes back to business receipts. What increase are you seeing? What percentage are you willing to give back?”
Councilman Bob Beers called the program risky but worth the shot.
“We haven’t tried it in a long time,” he said. “It might help. Let’s give it a try.”
Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian also acknowledged that the concept has been attempted by the city before, but added that she felt the attractions offered downtown have been built up enough where the program might take off.
Mayor Carolyn Goodman described the Downtown Loop as a positive addition to the growing number of transportation options downtown, which currently includes buses, bike share and ride-sharing services like Uber.
“It’s all about getting rid of cars and making it easier to get around.”