The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC) is investing in rideshare services after companies like Uber and Lyft have dramatically cut into public transit revenue.
The service had a soft launch in late May, leading to its official launch date Monday, and promises “no surge pricing” which charges an extra cost during periods of peak demand.
“There has certainly been a tremendous amount of disruption occurring,” said RTC General Manager Tina Quigley in a Joint Meeting of the Senate and Assembly Growth and Infrastructure committees in April.
Uber and Lyft “have come into Las Vegas and they certainly are leaving a mark,” Quigley said.
On the resort corridor, in particular, there has been a dramatic decrease in revenue. Between 2016 and 2017 there was a 12 percent decrease in transit revenue on the strip. The year between 2017 to 2018 there was an additional 7 percent drop in revenue, costing RTC over $4 million.
There was a time when RTC saw a $6 million profit from public transit revenue on the resort corridor, largely driven by tourist dollars — revenue which in turn helped finance public transit throughout the city. Quigley has warned that profit might be a thing of the past if RTC does not adapt.
While the 2018 transit revenue currently exceeds operating costs by $7 million, over the past three years the gap between the transit operation revenue and expense has been narrowing. RTC’s budget projections show that gap will get smaller in the future, eventually leading to financial losses around the year 2023.
The new reality is a major issue for the RTC, which needs revenue to exceed expenses by $14 million in order to have enough cash for bus maintenance and replacement.
The new RTC rideshare service titled “Trip to the Strip” covers the Las Vegas Strip between McCarran International Airport and Sahara Avenue, including the Las Vegas Convention Center, and will start at $6 or more depending on distance and number of passengers in the booking party.
Pickups and drop-offs will be at RTC fixed route stops, most of which on the Strip are located near property entrances, and the zero level of McCarran International Airport.
There are plans to expand to downtown Las Vegas and south to the M Resort in the near future.
“Trip to Strip is designed as an extension of our transit service on the Las Vegas Strip but we do things Vegas-style,” said Quigley in a statement on the new rideshare service. “We know travel preferences are changing, and our tourists are looking for new mobility options. Trip to Strip is an affordable and dynamic response to evolving consumer needs, offering a transportation service unlike anything else.”
The RTC rideshare vehicles will offer extra amenities including complimentary WiFi, USB ports for charging and ample space for luggage.
The “Trip to Strip” app is available free in the Apple and Google Play store and is integrated with “Transit”, an app used in more than 125 metropolitan areas worldwide that provides the planning element of the rideRTC mobile ticketing app in Southern Nevada.
“Transportation is vital to our visitors and Trip to Strip is another on-demand option for our attendees who often travel together in groups,” said Steve Hill, CEO and President of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority in support of the rideshare service.