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Transportation

Rider safety is top priority for the RTC, but bus stops pose a challenge

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Tragic kingdom: The grim aftermath of last week’s crash that claimed four lives.
Photo: Steve Marcus

Some of Las Vegas’ most horrific traffic accidents of the last decade have occurred at bus stops. In 2005, four people were killed when a woman, under the influence of Xanax, fell asleep and hit a northwest Valley bus stop. In 2008, a man under the influence of prescription pain medication killed a woman waiting for a bus. In the most recent case, Gary Lee Hosey Jr., who says he had only “one Budweiser,” killed four when his vehicle went airborne and struck a bus stop on Spring Mountain Road.

Las Vegas is not alone in its grim realities. A report released earlier this year by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign claimed that more than 80 percent of pedestrian deaths in New York’s Nassau County from 2008 to 2010 occurred near bus stops. The state of New York is being asked to make bus stops safer. Should Nevada be doing the same?

If only it were that easy. Angela Torres, government affairs and media relations manager with the Regional Transportation Commission, indicated that Southern Nevada has 3,700 transit stops, 1,600 of which are bus shelters. They’ve worked to make shelters as safe as possible—placing them 5 feet back from curbs, moving them to bus turnout lanes, locating them at the far sides of intersections—but in some cases they are blocked from doing anything due to property owners’ rights-of-way.

As for placing bollards (concrete barriers) around shelters, Torres says those would only make a high-speed collision more dangerous. “You’d have all the debris of concrete hitting pedestrians and the vehicle.”

Bottom line? Whatever the RTC does in the future to try to make bus shelters safer, there’s little that can protect pedestrians from a vehicle driven irresponsibly at high speeds. “We can’t prevent a person from choosing to drive under the influence or impaired,” Torres says.

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Ken Miller is Las Vegas Weekly's associate editor, having previously served as assistant features editor at the Las Vegas Sun ...

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