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RTC Contemplates Bus Stop Safety

RTC bus
"BRT Las Vegas 08 2010 290" by Mariordo (Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz) - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Another deadly bus stop accident has the Regional Transportation Commission looking at ways to protect riders.

This week a 6-year-old girl and her grandmother were killed when a driver slammed into the bus stop they were standing in. Metro Police say the driver was impaired at the time of the crash.

Leonardo Ruesga faces charges of driving under the influence and not stopping at the scene of a crash. During a court appearance Thursday, a judge gave him no bail.

The accident at Sahara Avenue and Maryland Parkway is just the latest deadly crash at a bus stop in southern Nevada.

In light of recent accidents involving commuters waiting to board and disembark, the Regional Transportation Commission is again looking at ways to improve safety at its bus stops.

Current regulations dictate bus stops must be at least five feet away from curbs, but that did not prevent Monday's crash. 

Carl Scarbrough, manager of transit amenities at the RTC, told KNPR’s State of Nevada the agency unfortunately can’t make everything safe all the time.

I don’t think there is a magic number that is going to protect everybody in all circumstances

The authority is currently finishing up its fourth phase of bus stop improvements, moving 150 bus stops back. Moving another 300 will be part of the fifth phase.

But, moving the bus stops is not as simple as just repositioning them. Scarbrough said sometimes finding property owners who will allow a bus stop to be moved is the biggest problem.

“That is going to be a challenge going forward,” he said.

Of the 45 or so property owners along a section of Flamingo Road the RTC was working on, only 10 actually agreed to work with the authorities; most, Scarbrough said, either ignored the request or refused it.

Scarbrough said the commission and traffic engineers have studied the problem and tried to find out how other cities tackled it. However, they found it is a problem unique to southern Nevada.

People have suggested making curbs at bus stops taller or using bollards, the short posts used to divert traffic, to protect bus riders. But those kinds of solutions can make the situation more dangerous -- as is the case with bollards -- or may not make a big enough difference.

“There are still some things to look at and we’re doing that, but I don’t want to go out and spend a bunch money on things that aren’t going to be effective for the community,” Scarbrough said.

Ultimately, it will take a number of solutions to fix the problem, including enforcement, education and engineering efforts. But, it can come down to personal responsibility.

“Obviously being intoxicated while you’re driving is a major factor because every fatal crash we have points back to that,” Scarbrough said.

Carl Scarbrough, manager of transit amenities, RTC

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Casey Morell is the coordinating producer of Nevada Public Radio's flagship broadcast State of Nevada and one of the station's midday newscast announcers. (He's also been interviewed by Jimmy Fallon, whatever that's worth.)