Bus rapid transit chosen over light rail for Maryland Parkway in Las Vegas

The new BRT line will have dedicated bus lanes extending from McCarran International Airport to downtown Las Vegas

April 15, 2019
bus rapid transit; Las Vegas transit

The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC) recently voted to boost public transit along the Maryland Parkway in Las Vegas by establishing a bus rapid transit (BRT) line to replace the existing Rte. 109 bus services.

According to the Las Vegas Sun, the new BRT line will have dedicated bus lanes extending from McCarran International Airport to downtown Las Vegas. The Maryland Parkway is one of the most heavily traveled areas for motorists and bus riders.

The RTC board chose BRT over two other alternatives for transit improvements, including enhancing the current 109 bus line with improved bus service or creating a light-rail system.

One of the major factors in the board's decision was the project costs, which for the BRT plan would be $335 million in capital costs and $7.2 million for operating and maintenance. Comparitively, the light-rail option would have been $750 million in capital costs and $11.5 million in operating and maintenance. 

While enhancing the existing 109 bus route would have been the most affordable option ($29 million for capital costs, $6.8 million operating and maintenance), studies conducted by the RTC concluded that the upgrades would have produced the smallest benefits to potential increase in ridership. RTC also expects to have the means to cover the additional costs of BRT through federal grants, including one the agency is seeking from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).

RTC's vote sealed the environmental impact assessment for the Maryland Parkway project, which the commission can now submit to the FTA for a decision to be issued sometime this summer. Engineering work on the Maryland Parkway BRT project is expected to begin in early 2020, with construction anticipated to start as soon as 2022. If all goes according to plan, the new BRT line could be open to public use by the end of 2024.

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Source: Las Vegas Sun

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