Zeitblick / Das Online-Magazin der HillAc - 10. März 2012 - Nr. 42

Means of Transport

The Slowest Bus On Earth

Calling the means of transport featured this time “the slowest bus on earth” certainly means exaggerating, but even if there may be others which might claim this title with a greater degree of justification, this one feels like the slowest. And yet, a ride on it can be a pleasure.

Another thing which sets it apart from the vast majority of public conveyances is the fact that it has got a nickname rather than just a number, the nickname being at the same time an official designation used on the tickets: THE DEUCE.

The ticket – valid for 24 hours of remarkable transport. / Foto: HillAc; I. Sidor

However, this name does not imply any demonic or even diabolic qualities. Some people say it is used because the busses are double-deckers. But I think it refers to the usually low-ranking playing cards with the value two (French “deux”) called the deuces. And this hints at the community which is served by The Deuce: A place where playing cards is an essential activity – Las Vegas.

Next to the Wynn and its aptly named younger sister Encore, The Deuce is picking up passengers.
/ Foto: HillAc; I. Sidor

The Deuce provides 24/7 transport along The Strip, the central axis of Las Vegas, where nearly all of the great casinos, showplaces and hotels are situated. Southbound, it starts off downtown near Freemont Street. This is where some of the old traditional casinos can be found, where James Bond played catch-me-if-you-can with Vegas patrol cars in the movie “Diamonds Are Forever”, and where Vegas Vic, the large neon cowboy, still welcomes visitors. Compared to the attractions of The Strip, the establishments in this neighborhood faced a hard time in the eighties. To attract more people, Freemont Street was covered by a high-tech canopy with millions of light-emitting diodes. Providing dazzling sound-and-light shows, the Freemont Street Experience has become another attraction of Vegas.

Leaving downtown, The Deuce goes south, passing among other buildings along this not so glamorous part of its route an incredible number of tiny, kitschy and even shady wedding chapels offering their services next to pawnshops for those who have run out of money or luck or both.

The bus moves on to pass the Stratosphere Tower, and this is where the Las Vegas Boulevard really becomes The Strip: an abundance of casinos, hotels, effigies and copies of world-famous buildings and sights going on and on and on.

Riding a road where Cesar’s Palace is not far away from the Eiffel Tower. / Foto: HillAc; I. Sidor

It takes some time till helicopters and private aircraft on the left side of the Boulevard show that The Deuce has reached the area of McCarran International Airport. After that, the city is spreading into the dusty dessert, providing shopping opportunities for citizens or tourists in some detached stores and outlets.

Leaving Las Vegas Boulevard and turning left, The Deuce reaches its final destination at South Strip Transfer Terminal.

All in all it is a straight route across a flat plain. What makes The Deuce so slow?

It is really a combination of reasons.

As nearly every block along the Strip is graced with at least one casino and hotel and as patrons are not expected to walk long distances, frequent stops - one or two per block - decrease the average speed.

As mentioned above, The Deuce is a double-decker, offering space for a considerable number of passengers. Those who want to get on board the bus have to wait for those getting off. Following regulations, they all have to use the door next to the driver.

Traffic on The Strip. / Foto: HillAc; I. Sidor

It takes some time. When the bus is ready to go on, it can be hard to blend in the traffic: The Deuce has to wait for a slot. Being finally in the right lane again, it soon faces traffic lights at the end of the block, making it stop again. Having passed them, there is the new block with another hotel and a stop. Getting on board and getting off starts again.

All of this combines to an unforeseeable but effective pattern: If the lights are not red, there will be no slot; if there is a slot and the lights say “GO”, there will be some more passengers for The DEUCE, if there are only few new ones, those getting down from the upper deck will take their time.

Do you think I’m complaining? Not really. In fact, those who use The Deuce are not prone to discontent. Even if the bus is – in spite of the two decks – overcrowded. People don’t mind. I remember a driver greeting the new passengers with a cheerful “Welcome to the sardine bus!” Everybody smiled.

A unique (and funny) experience: The Sphinx of Gizeh (still enjoying a complete nose) seen from The Deuce. / Foto: HillAc; I. Sidor

So what makes The Deuce an exceptional means of transport is not just its speed. It is the atmosphere on board. Here really applies what is often claimed in other places or at special events: Everybody is here to have a good time. People are relaxed, full of anticipation, they watch all the small or medium or king-size wonders which seem to float past the windows, they are enjoying themselves even though the bus may be crowded and slow. A ride on The Deuce is a simple, but remarkable experience – that is why I rate it one of the very special means of transport.

© HillAc / I. Sidor