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Inside Vegas - Steve Miller

Steve Miller is a former Las Vegas City Councilman. In 1991, the readers of the Las Vegas Review Journal voted him the "Most Effective Public Official" in Southern Nevada. Visit his website at:

Hit your Target Market?

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 streaming video.

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 person

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 stop shelters.

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 vehicles.

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."


Steve Miller,
Former Clark County Regional Transportation Commissioner

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