Las Vegas Sun

July 27, 2014

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LOOKING IN ON: TRANSPORTATION:

With VIP lines, airport catches up to clubs, buffets

After a long wait, first-class customers are getting additional perks at McCarran International Airport.

Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, airline representatives asked airport officials to add dedicated lines for first-class passengers at security checkpoints.

Airport managers said they would think about it but worried that there weren’t enough first-class passengers to justify it, especially given Transportation Security Administration personnel were already stretched thin.

Airport officials concluded that, if first-class security lines were added, the lines for economy passengers would suffer, recalls Rosemary Vassiliadis, deputy director of the Clark County Aviation Department.

“We thought, ‘First come, first served was the way to go,’ ” she says. And “first” didn’t mean first class.

About a year ago, McCarran agreed to set aside first-class lines in the A, B and D concourses.

And, starting today, security lines are dedicated to first-class and business-class passengers in the C concourse, and business-class travelers are being allowed to use first-class lines in the other three concourses.

• • •

Biking and busing as a form of commuting seems to be gaining popularity.

Buses owned by the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada carried bikes about 692,000 times last year, up from 587,500 in 2006 and 504,000 in 2004.

It may help that newer RTC buses can handle three bikes. The old buses could accommodate only two.

But it’s unclear what prompted the increase in interest. Are we observing a glacial shift from cars toward cheaper, greener alternatives? Did RTC’s promotion of transit and cycling as a joint commuting alternative help prompt the shift?

Yes and yes, transportation analysts say. Certainly, cycling has become a more appealing mode of commuting, reflecting new bike lanes and paths throughout the valley.

RTC officials are pushing this further.

The new ACE rapid-transit bus lines, launching in the winter, will have space for three bikes inside, and a new transit hub in downtown Las Vegas will cater to the biker.

Construction of the hub, at Bonneville Avenue and Casino Center Boulevard, begins this month. RTC officials hope it’s completed by late 2010.

Cyclists will be able to check their bikes at the hub and store them during the day. RTC is calling this feature a “bike valet.” (Officials have yet to resolve liability issues and set the cost to store bikes.) And there will be an on-site bike-repair shop.

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