INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
August 25, 2008
LAS VEGAS - A bulls eye with "Hit your
Target Market" written above it (from the Outdoor Promotions, LLC website).
What a sad and ironic slogan.
But what could be a more appropriate slogan
and logo for an advertising business after 11 people were killed, and dozens
more injured while waiting for a bus in their company's LV bus stop shelter/billboards?
No where else in the US are bus stop shelter/billboards
permitted to be as close as 24 inches from speeding vehicles, trapping
bus passengers in a flimsy aluminum cage directly in harm's way. All this
so advertisers can gain the largest audience of any other form of outdoor
commercial -- and political -- promotion.
KTNV TV News puts it best in this
How long will it take before this horrible
problem is resolved? How many more lives will be lost or ruined until our
city's government takes action?
The next time you see a political candidate's
name advertised (many for free) on a Las Vegas bus stop shelter, think
of all the bus stop victims and their families before you vote for that
This is not the first INSIDE VEGAS column
warning the RTC of this problem. In August, 2005, "Driving
while wealthy" told of a well-to-do woman who OD'ed on Xanax
- fell asleep, and ran over and killed four people at a Vegas bus stop.
Five days later, she was photographed singing at a karaoke bar. Only after
a huge public outcry did the district attorney finally decide to take any
action. Eventually, she got off with a fine and a few years in prison.
When I served on the Clark
County Regional Transportation Commission (RTC), I was approached by
the former owner of Outdoor Promotions, LLC, the company with the amazingly
ironic slogan "Hit Your Target Market."
Unfortunately, a target market is
not all that's been hit at these outdoor billboards that double as bus
The gentleman explained that his company
at no charge to taxpayers would build thousands of aluminum bus stop shelters
and place them strategically throughout Clark County in exchange for the
exclusive right to sell advertising on the sides of the structures.
It's also obvious that the shelter/billboards
were placed more strategically to provide exposure for advertisers
than to provide shelter for bus riders trying to get out of the rain, or
find a safe haven from speeding traffic. Too many are located on narrow
sidewalks backing up to concrete walls. Some of these are the most visible
for advertising purposes, but also the most dangerous as was exemplified
by the shelter hit by the woman on Xanax.
According to Webster's Dictionary, a SHELTER
is: something that covers or affords protection. This is hardly what our
Las Vegas bus stop shelters provide those waiting for a bus. The word TARGET
most suitably describes what these shelters actually provide.
Tens of millions of dollars in advertising
revenue have been generated by Outdoor Promotions, LLC since my RTC term
expired in 1991. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in free political ads
have also been donated by this company in that time.
Little did I know while I was on the RTC
that too many of the shelters I helped to approve would be bolted within
inches of the curb, exposing waiting bus passengers to vehicles passing
at speeds up to -- and often exceeding -- 45 MPH.
Twenty years later, there have been 11
deaths caused by the close proximity of these shelters to out of control
The reason for the shelter's closeness
to the curb is so that the advertising they display can be clearly and
easily read by rapidly passing motorists -- that's the only reason for
their location. Most shelters have adequate space behind them so they could
be pushed back to a safe distance, but that space is seldom used.
The advertising messages and the money
they generate obviously take precedence over safety.
Also, most persons in wheelchairs are unable
to pass within the 24 inch space between the shelter and the curb without
risking a tumble into fast moving traffic. The Americans with Disabilities
Act (ADA) is blatantly being violated.
Meanwhile, the RTC enjoys a $50,000 liability
cap that discourages legitimate attorneys from taking them to court because
the most they can receive is 50 percent of a settlement, or $25,000 for
their time and effort.
So far the only lawyers who have brought
action against the RTC are ambulance chasers looking for a quick settlement
in district court. None have looked into taking a case to federal court
based on the ADA element or violations of civil rights.
Also, the RTC is not the deepest pocket
in this equation. It's Outdoor Promotions, LLC, a private firm that does
not enjoy the RTC's liability cap.
But it's obvious that if the shelter/billboards
were set back a safe distance from speeding traffic, it would minimize
the visual effect of the advertisements. So they remain in harm's way while
the powers-to-be study and study and study and study the problem, while
hoping the public outcry will quell.
Not mentioned is the fact that the company
that owns these dangerous shelters has for years offered free political
advertising to select local politicians during elections, especially those
appointed to the RTC who vote to favor the company. In exchange, some members
of the RTC have shamelessly turned their backs on the safety of local bus
riders including the tourists who utilize the Strip route, the main artery
of our leisure industry.
To move the shelter/billboards back a safe
distance would be to lessen their visual impact and effectiveness thereby
reducing Outdoor Promotions, LLC's advertising revenue. If this occurs,
the company may be less generous with political ad space donations around
election time, and certain RTC commissioners might covet their political
careers more than they value human life.
Next time you visit our city, here's fair
warning. Don't hesitate to take the bus up and down the Strip, but for
God's sake, stay away from those supposed shelters or you may become the
twelfth victim of a "Target Market."
Former Clark County Regional Transportation