Las Vegas Wants Control Over Transit Destiny

Bill would give local planning commission freedom to pursue funding for light rail.

A proposed Las Vegas light-rail line would run along the Strip. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken, File)

This is your first of three free stories this month. Become a free or sustaining member to read unlimited articles, webinars and ebooks.

Become A Member

A proposal heard in Nevada’s Senate Transportation Committee last week would give new authority to local officials wanting to pursue funding options for transportation. The plan is a first step toward constructing a new light-rail line in Las Vegas.

The transit addition has been in the works for several years, the Associated Press reports. It would link McCarran International Airport with the Las Vegas Strip. But members of the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada need the state’s permission to go beyond the drawing board and pursue funding. This latest proposal (SB 149) would give them more freedom to go directly to local voters or the federal government, to propose tax increases or obtain grants.

Tina Quigley, general manager of Southern Nevada’s RTC, told the AP that the agency studied light-rail systems and transportation authorities in Denver, Phoenix, San Diego and Salt Lake City while crafting the bill. She emphasized “the need to very clearly define that regional transportation authorities have the jurisdiction to pursue mass transit systems,” the AP reports.

The light rail will cost an estimated $12.5 billion and could take up to 30 years to build. In the short term, the RTC may have better luck going to voters than the federal government. President Donald Trump’s budget blueprint, released last week, recommends a 13 percent cut to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s budget, which would amount to about $2.4 billion annually. Trump’s plan proposes axing new grants by the Federal Transit Administration’s Capital Investment Grant program and doing away with the TIGER grant program.

But Las Vegas planners are serious about the need for an alternative to cars. Light rail was included in a master plan, released last year, to help alleviate congestion and ensure that the city remains attractive to the conventioneers who have become an economic staple.

Rachel Dovey is an award-winning freelance writer and former USC Annenberg fellow living at the northern tip of California’s Bay Area. She writes about infrastructure, water and climate change and has been published by Bust, Wired, Paste, SF Weekly, the East Bay Express and the North Bay Bohemian

Follow Rachel .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Tags: transportation spendinglight railtrump and citieslas vegas

Next City App Never Miss A StoryDownload our app ×

You've reached your monthly limit of three free stories.

This is not a paywall. Become a free or sustaining member to continue reading.

  • Read unlimited stories each month
  • Our email newsletter
  • Webinars and ebooks in one click
  • Our Solutions of the Year magazine
  • Support solutions journalism and preserve access to all readers who work to liberate cities
  • Johnny at $5/Month
  • Derek at $5/Month
  • John at $5/Month

Already a member? Log in here. U.S. donations are tax-deductible minus the value of thank-you gifts. Questions? Learn more about our membership options.

or pay by credit card:

All members are automatically signed-up to our email newsletter. You can unsubscribe with one-click at any time.

  • Donate $10 or $5/Month

    Next City notebook

  • Donate $20 or $5/Month

    The 21 Best Solutions of 2021 special edition magazine

  • Donate $40 or $10/Month

    Brave New Home by Diana Lind

  • Donate $100 or $10/Month

    Four surprise books from our collection.