Las Vegas Sun

July 15, 2019

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Ride-sharing is hurting RTC bus ridership on Strip

Strip at Night Oct 1 2013

Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

People ride a double decker RTC bus on the Strip Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2013.

With Lyft and Uber now a popular transportation option for Las Vegas visitors, especially on the Strip, revenue from the Regional Transportation Commission’s bus routes along Las Vegas Boulevard has dipped, according to officials.

Revenue from Strip rides fell from $23.9 million in fiscal 2015 — when Uber and Lyft began operations here — to $18.5 million in fiscal 2018, according to commission data. Ridership at the same time fell from 14.6 million in fiscal 2015 to just over 12 million in fiscal 2018.

Ride-sharing companies do not share their ridership data with municipalities.

About 20 percent of RTC ridership is generated on the Strip, and those rides account for 30 percent of the agency's revenue.

“The nation as a whole is having a large conversation about what is the point continuing to invest in public transit systems and recognizing that (ride-sharing services) are here and are growing,” said Tina Quigley, the commission’s general manager.

Quigley was speaking last week during a presentation before the Clark County Commission on the RTC’s plan to meet future transportation needs.

In areas that have lower RTC ridership and are being serviced by ride-sharing companies, “certainly there’s going to be a blending and a change in what the role of public transit is for a community,” Quigley said during the presentation.

The RTC’s future plan focuses heavily on routes along Las Vegas Boulevard and Maryland Parkway, which have some of the highest ridership numbers.

For Maryland Parkway, three options have been discussed for the 8.7-mile loop connecting McCarran International Airport and downtown. They include enhancing the existing transit system, a bus rapid transit system with a dedicated lane, and a light rail system.

Estimated costs are $750 million for light rail, $335 million for bus rapid transit, and $30 million to upgrade the existing system. Light rail would cost $220 an hour to operate and maintain, while bus rapid transit would run about $96 an hour.

Federal grants could finance up to 70 percent of whichever option is chosen, said Guy Hobbs, managing director of Hobbs, Ong and Associates, a project consultant for the RTC. After the RTC narrows its plan later this year, the financing talks will ramp up.

“There will be talks going on for the next year, not only locally, but with the federal government, related to how would this be funded after we decide as a community if this is what we want to move forward with,” Quigley said.