Call it the cheapest tour in town. You can ride Citizen Area Transit (CAT)’s Route 107 from College and Horizon Drives in Henderson straight into the heart of downtown Las Vegas and back for only $2.50.
The route cruises along Boulder Highway and, according to the transit guide, should only take about an hour. Along with nine other passengers, I paid my fare at 11:50 a.m. and took a front row seat on The Deuce, the gold-colored, double-decker bus that was originally used to pack more people on a single bus for Strip routes. It feels empty now, but before arriving at the Downtown Transportation Center (DTC), only a few seats remained unfilled.
I tried talking to people, but Boulder Highway travelers are not as used to seeing a camera around someone’s neck as are folks on the Strip. It fits the setting: Boulder Highway is a 15-mile long strip mall, complete with fast food joints, gas stations, motels, a smattering of casinos and used car lots.
The driver did his best to arrive at the DTC on time, but the rain, people with incorrect change and a couple wheelchairs added 20 minutes to the journey. I wasn’t in a hurry but the complaining murmurs I overheard—mostly about the wheelchairs—indicated some people did have places to go.
I wandered around Fremont Street for an hour, somehow resisting fried Twinkies, 99-cent daiquiris and the lure of a “free pull.”
Maneuvering through the human flotsam clogging up the sidewalks of the DTC caused me to miss the bus. It’s not their fault; not everyone falls through society’s cracks on purpose. I waited 15 minutes for the next bus, then hit the road again, getting a look at the other side of Boulder Highway. It’s the same. The barren lot that most recently was Castaways (and was once the Showboat) is still empty. The new sign marking the border of Las Vegas and Henderson that first beckoned “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” now reads “Drive Carefully Come Back Soon.”
Then hunger hit. I blame the signs proclaiming “Old Las Vegas Prices” at the Longhorn Casino. Try it sometime. You can get a decent—not fantastic, but better than the price suggests—steak dinner for $4.99. I told you, it’s the cheapest tour in town.
I finished my meal, headed out to the nearest stop … and waited. And waited. I must have once again barely missed one bus and had to wait about 20 minutes for the next.
When I got on, there was a woman asking if anyone had a day pass they wouldn’t be using again. The $2.50 pass is good for unlimited rides for 24 hours (replacing the outdated transfer slips). Hers must have been close to expiring. No one spoke up to offer any assistance and she exited the bus with a look of worry on her face.
I exited the bus at Boulder Highway and Lake Mead Parkway. Route 217 stops there and would get me to within a block of my house. It was 4:02 p.m. when I got off the 107. The 217 passed through this stop at 4:00.
The next time it came by was 5 p.m., proving the one major down point about riding the CAT buses anywhere in town: it isn’t the ride that sucks, it’s the wait.
And wait I did, for an hour. I probably could have walked home in the time it took to wait for the next bus, but my day pass was still valid and I intended to use it to its fullest. Plus, it was raining, and while walking in the rain is great some places, Las Vegas isn’t one of them. I arrived home at 5:15 p.m.
I spent two and a half hours on the bus and more than an hour and a half waiting for the bus. No one exposed themselves to me or smelled bad. Sure, a few people talked too loud, but overall, riding the bus is not as bad as many people make it seem.
Then again, waiting for the bus still sucks.