The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada might be one of the most powerful government agencies that people don't talk about that often.
The RTC manages bus service in Las Vegas. It designs roads and figures out how to pay for them. And it's responsible for making sure traffic lights cycle the way they are supposed to.
At the helm of all that is Tina Quigley, the RTC's general manager.
She's checking in with us today for the latest on what's to come -- have officials figured out, yet, how the Raiders stadium will handle the traffic, for instance?
After the deadly shooting on an RTC bus in March, Metro Police said they couldn't see what was going on in the bus because of vinyl advertising on the sides of the bus. The RTC said it would look into adding cameras on buses that Metro could access.
Quigley: The test [of those cameras] was successful and our board recently approved us to move forward to outfit our entire fleet of vehicles with this technology.
We were able to find a technology that could work with our existing cameras. So, it didn't require a super large investment in new hardware.
The sheriff was very happy with the original test on Charleston [Boulevard].
On the idea of light rail from McCarran International Airport down Maryland Parkway:
I think it's got very large community support. It is not about tourists. That is a corridor that is about connecting the airport, the airport employees with a major university with the Boulevard Mall, with the Sunrise medical district going downtown, then connecting in with our new University medical district.
That is a route that is currently one of our highest ridership routes just on the bus. It is a corridor that has a lot of opportunity for economic development for transportation-oriented development.
The questions at this point are how are we going to fund it, when can we actually get it and what would be the appropriate technology.
On the technology that is going to be used along that corridor:
Autonomous vehicles are not going to remove the need for high-capacity transit in certain corridors.
Autonomous vehicles are going to be something that help us out as an overall piece of the puzzle, but you have got to look at certain districts where you have a lot of density of people. Autonomous vehicles don't remove the need to move those people in high-capacity modes.
On light rail on the Strip:
I would say the subterranean or underground option is not in the conversation at this point -- recognizing it probably adds 10 times the cost of an at-grade solution.
The other thing is, if someone is enjoying the Las Vegas Strip, that is an address you go to really take in the visual experience.
At our last board meeting, our board awarded a contract to a consultant to start what we call the Resort Corridor Feasibility Study. It is the next phase of the study.
One of the RTC's tasks was to move forward with the more detailed feasibility study of how we're going to move people from the airport to the resort corridor, convention center, and downtown.
On County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani's idea of banning private cars from the Las Vegas Strip:
It will be taken seriously. She is on our board and this is something she has been passionate about for quite a while.
I think as part of this feasibility study that we're working on with the resort corridor themselves and the county and several other partners, that will be something that will be vetted.
The county oversees the Strip. The RTC's responsibility is for mobility along the Strip. We do not have purview for actually dictating what the overall use of that pavement is. That will be the county's decision.
On solutions for the Strip traffic:
Technology is the new asphalt. We are going to get to a point where we really are going to have to start considering technology solutions to how we're going to get more capacity through the infrastructure that we do have.
On the Raiders' stadium:
I think we will have an enhanced transit system to help. There is no silver bullet solution when it comes to large events and moving lots of people. There are lots of pieces to the puzzle. So, Uber and Lyft are a piece, private cars are a piece, transit is a piece, the monorail is a piece, shuttles are a piece, even pedestrian and bike activity are a piece.
After a trip to Atlanta to tour the new Falcons stadium, one thing we learned is the best thing you can do is diffuse and disperse. You wouldn't really want to have all parking at one location at the stadium. You wouldn't want to have 16,000 parking spots right at the stadium location. That's just a mess when it comes to game day, especially when it comes to egress.
On the traffic and mapping app Waze:
For those who don't have Waze, I encourage you to download it. The reason I do is that we actually receive crowd-sourced data. It is using your cellphone, but it is also using the information you put in there: where accidents are, maybe where police are -- you as a user put information. We actually get access to that information as part of our data feed and that helps us manage the roads much quicker then we ever would be able to if we weren't getting that data.
On the future of bus transit:
I truly believe that, in the near future, the concept of fixed route transit or just a bus route that stops every quarter of a mile along the way is something that will eventually be superseded by more of an on-demand type traffic system. You use your phone -- you use your app -- to let us know where you are and where you need to go and we're able, through the Uber- and Lyft-type algorithms, to be able to, in a moment, craft the right route for you and others using a smaller van-type service.
Tina Quigley, general manager, Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada
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