The new ACE Gold service in Las Vegas uses special vehicles (don’t call them a bus!) that roll on rubber tires but are designed to look more like a train. You use one like a train as well, boarding from any door from a platform that is even with the interior of the vehicle.
As you can see, the vehicle is longer than a normal bus, longer even than those “articulated” buses that ply the streets of Las Vegas. And it is nice not having to go in the one and only door with a fare box behind a crowd. Yes, it is a bus. It sounds like a bus, it has bus seats much narrower than any train seat I’ve ever sat upon, and it rides like a bus. Also, I can’t see any way it could possibly get you down Las Vegas Boulevard any faster than any other vehicle during a busy period. As a substitute for a train, the ACE service is a failure. Sorry, Regional Transit Commission (RTC), but that’s just the way it is.
That said, I had a very pleasant ride. I really never expected anything driving in the same lane I could drive my coupe in to match a train in any significant way anyway, so I wasn’t disappointed. In spite of some obvious flaws, the ACE, which is a newly minted companion to the “Deuce” double-decker buses that have been visible on the Strip for several years, is an overall good thing, especially for tourists.
Below is a photo two of those very people about to take advantage of the very convenient ticket dispensers located right at the ACE stations. For $7 you can get a 24-hour all access pass allowing you to ride anywhere that the RTC goes. For a tourist like these folks, or a local wanting to enjoy the activities available along the Strip, there are two prominent advantages to using the ACE service.
First, if you use the ACE you can park somewhere near a station, buy your ticket and not worry about traffic, valet tipping, or getting lost. (One thing about these machines that can be frustrating: exact change or plastic only. You can not overpay even if you’re willing, as someone in line ahead of me found out to his dismay.) Not having to navigate your way down a boulevard choked with buses, cars, motorcycles and advertising trucks is more than worth the money you’ll spend on a ticket to ride the RTC.
Second, the ACE will drop you in the center of the biggest entertainment hot spots in town. Fashion Show Mall, for example, or New York New York Hotel and Casino. And with your all access pass, if you want to have dinner up on one end of things and see a show down at the other end, you’re covered!
And there is a third advantage I haven’t mentioned. That is that when you take the ACE, or the Deuce for that matter, you can gawk at all of the beautiful things there are to see along Las Vegas Boulevard. For a tourist that means a chance to take all sorts of pictures you just can’t get any other way. For a local like myself it was a chance to see The Strip as the scenic byway that it is quite properly designated, rather than the royal pain that it presents to someone simply trying to go somewhere.
Now a word about the “Deuce”. I have ridden these double-decker buses around town, although never along The Strip. They are very nice buses, and they stop at every intersection along Las Vegas Boulevard. If you need to minimize your walking, the Deuce is the way to go. (You can transfer between ACE and Deuce at any of the Strip ACE stops as well.)
The ACE service, while nicer than a standard bus, will never substitute for a train. But both ACE and it’s older brother Deuce are darned convenient ways to get up and down that most famous and beautiful boulevard we call the Las Vegas Strip.