By , June 4, 2011 11:15 pm

Mike and I arrived in Las Vegas today for my good friend’s (Tamara’s) wedding.  Our flight got in at 1:05 pm local time and our plan for the day was to check in to our off-strip hotel and get to REI (which is open until 9:00 pm) to buy our backpacks for our RTW trip.  And we wanted to do this the most economical way possible (i.e. without having to pay for a taxi).

Sounds simple enough, right?

I mean, we figured we are reasonably intelligent individuals, Las Vegas is full of tourists trying to get around the city, and everyone speaks English.  Taking the bus to the hotel and REI would be a piece of cake.

A Las Vegas city bus

… Or not.  Because here I sit, typing out this blog entry on our Kindle (which in and of itself is a great and painful feat), without a shiny new backpack to play with.  We never did make it to REI today.  But man did we ever give it the good old college try.

Here are the lessons I learned about taking public transit today:

1.  If you don’t have exact change, your bus trip just got more expensive.

2.  Don’t just write down the address of your hotel/destination.  Look it up on a map before you venture out.

3.  Better yet, print a google map of your hotel’s location.

4.  Don’t just write down Google Map’s bus directions and try to follow them without knowing the name of the stops.

5.  Don’t assume that you can successfully make several bus transfers without a TRANSIT map of any kind.

6.  Don’t assume that you can successfully make several bus transfers without even having a CITY map of any kind.

7.  Even if a bus is an hour and a half late, don’t give up on it arriving.  If you do, and you start walking away, you will turn to see it drive by you five minutes later.

8.  If the name/route number on the bus that pulls up is not the one you are looking for, don’t get on it – no matter how tired you are of waiting for the one you want.

9.  If you’re at a transit station that all the major bus routes go through and the bus you’re waiting for does not show up, find an alternate route while you still can.  Don’t hop on a random bus that also stops at the bay you’re waiting at and assume it will take you somewhere useful.

10.  Know where your stops are.  Otherwise, the trip will be much longer and more scenic than you ever imagined.

11.  Even if a bus appears to loop around on its route, don’t assume you can just stay on it until you get back to the stop you missed.  You probably need to switch buses.

12.  No matter what happens, take advantage of every opportunity to see new things, meet new people, and strike up a conversation with someone around you.  The other stuff can wait.

Now hopefully these lessons have stuck.  Because tomorrow morning, we’re going to try it all over again!

Have you had any misadventures with public transit during any of your travels (or in your hometown, for that matter)?

5 Responses to “12 Things Vegas Taught Me About Taking Public Transit”

  1. Rebecca says:

    Hello, trying to take a bus while most of the routes were on strike in Florence!!!

    I am pretty aware of my surroundings all of the time and though the bus was taking a route I had never been on before, I kept looking out the window and when I noticed that there were more signs announcing that more stores accepted American Express cards, I knew I was getting close to the train station (only hardcore tourist shops accept that card in Europe). I got off way too early, but I didn’t mind walking extra, better then backtracking and missing my stop!

  2. Tijmen says:

    7 is a classic one, I had that happen to me a bit to often. But there comes a point where you are just sick of waiting and you walk away, the problem is that all to often you will see your bus drive by a few minutes later.

    The biggest fail I had with public transport was getting on the wrong train. I was already late, and the sign said airport. 2 minutes. So I jumped in, not knowing that the sign rotated and it was actually for the next train. I ended up in the wrong part of the city and eventually missing my flight 🙁

    • Ashley Lenzen says:

      Wow, a missed flight! That was definitely worse than us abandoning our quest to find REI to purchase our backpacks that night. Luckily, we were waiting for our bus near Fremont Street, so even though we were frustrated with missing it, we had a great evening checking it out.

  3. Asa says:

    Wow, I am impressed you used your Kindle to write a blog post. That’s more impressive than your transit woes. The exact change bit annoys me most. Transit systems should take credit cards or make it easier to buy tickets. We got on the train in the wrong direction in Paris once and got stuck with huge crowds at some football stadium. And the we couldn’t reverse directions for free and had to buy another ticket while being watched by security with machine guns! Kudos for trying public transit. Vegas was a tough first choice. I think you’ll find other cities much easier.

    • Ashley Lenzen says:

      I guess I should come clean here… I didn’t actually use the Kindle for the entire blog post. I got about half done and gave up because it was so frustrating. And I had a million typos to fix after. At least I now know that if I’m being impatient and waiting to write something while Mike is on the laptop, I should use the Kindle to read a book, rather than try to prove a point.

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