RTC expands service area, launches microtransit program for locals

By: - August 9, 2021 4:51 pm

The Bonneville Transit Center in Downtown Las Vegas. (Photo by Ronda Churchill for The Nevada Current)

Beginning Monday, public transit options have been extended to an additional 185,000 Southern Nevadans, in what local transportation officials are calling the region’s largest expansion in recent history.

Much of the expansion restores and reconfigures routes that were cut during the pandemic last year. But changes also include two new bus routes and the introduction of two new programs, one of which will provide better access for passengers with disabilities.

RTC OnDemand is a new microtransit pilot service that will serve a 32-square-mile zone encompassing much of the southwest and West Henderson — two areas of the valley that have been underserved by the public transit agency.

Passengers who qualify for RTC’s existing paratransit service will be able to use OnDemand for door-to-door transportation, similar to a private rideshare service. Only a third of eligible passengers were actively using the standard paratransit service, an RTC spokesperson told the Current in April.

But OnDemand isn’t just for passengers with disabilities. Anybody within the designated service zone can schedule a pickup and be transported to an existing bus stop, where they can transfer onto a fixed route and continue to their final destination. It is designed to help people who live in newer areas where fixed routes don’t reach.

RTC’s second new initiative — dubbed “Transit Lab” — will focus on providing faster and more frequent bus service along the busiest segments of Charleston Boulevard.

Altogether these changes come with an annual price tag of $6.9 million, according to an RTC spokesperson. By comparison, RTC officials have previously said they cut $9 million in service during the pandemic last year.

The new changes are being funded by federal stimulus dollars, at least in the short term. The RTC received $303 million in federal stimulus funds, including $112 million from the CARES Act and $131 million from the American Rescue Plan.

RTC of Southern Nevada provided more than 56 million trips throughout the pandemic last year, noted Henderson Mayor Debra March, who sits on the RTC Board of Directors.

The RTC estimates that 21,000 residents living at the poverty level, 18,000 seniors and 13,000 residents with a disability will benefit from the new service changes.

A complete list of service changes is available here.

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April Corbin Girnus
April Corbin Girnus

April Corbin Girnus is an award-winning journalist with a decade of media experience. She has been a beat writer at Las Vegas Sun, a staff writer at LEO Weekly, web editor of Las Vegas Weekly and a blogger documenting North American bike share systems’ efforts to increase ridership in underserved communities. An occasional adjunct journalism professor, April steadfastly rejects the notion that journalism is a worthless major. Amid the Great Recession, she earned a B.A. in journalism from the University of Nevada Las Vegas, where she served as editor-in-chief of the student newspaper. She later earned an M.A. in media studies and a graduate certificate in media management from The New School for Public Engagement. A stickler about municipal boundary lines, April enjoys teaching people about unincorporated Clark County. She grew up in Sunrise Manor and currently resides in Paradise with her husband, two children and two mutts.