Rio Pulls Plug on Free Shuttle to Harrah’s After 17 Years

Rio Las Vegas has announced it will end a free shuttle that’s run guests between the off-Strip resort and Harrah’s.

After 17 years, the service ends on Nov. 6, 2017.

Rio Las Vegas sign

The free shuttle was started to make Rio guests feel less isolated since the hotel is off-Strip. Translation: It wasn’t to get more people to Harrah’s.

A message to Rio customers says: “It has been our pleasure to offer the Strip shuttle services for the past 17 years. However, due to the changing needs of the city and of our company, we have decided to cease the shuttle operation effective November 6, 2017. We thank you for your continued patronage and regret any inconvenience this may cause.”

Obviously, terminating the shuttle is a cost-saving measure (the “changing needs of our company” part), but Rio is correct in that at least one of the changes in the city has rendered such shuttles moot: Lyft and Uber.

Rideshare services provide much more flexibility and can get riders from Rio to Harrah’s and other Strip hotels for $8-10 in many cases.

Lyft Line Las Vegas

We don’t need your stinking free shuttles, The Man.

Another dynamic of Las Vegas that’s changed is the prevalence of free parking. Caesars Entertainment resorts on the Strip all charge for parking, Rio does not. While inconvenient, a number of guests parked at Rio and took the free shuttle to The Strip, bypassing paid parking. That tactic obviously won’t fly anymore.

The Rio to Harrah’s shuttle ran daily from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m., with pick-up times about every half hour.

The shuttle picked up near the Carnival World Buffet entrance and deposited riders at a shuttle stop at Harrah’s.

Previous shuttles, from Rio to Bally’s and the Linq, were discontinued some time ago.

If you’re still committed to using a shuttle, there’s one at the Gold Coast, right next door to the Rio. That free shuttle runs to the Orleans as well as the High Roller at the Linq. Learn more.

Thanks to Dean B. and Justin W. on the Twitters for letting us know about the demise of the free Rio shuttle.

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  • overloadinco

    I assume they’re still continuing the Rio to Bally’s shuttle? Connecting Rio to the strip is still needed to keep patronage up at the Rio. Since they never had a shuttle to other Caesars’ properties, I thought it was strange to run shuttles to both Harrahs and Bally’s

    • Shelley

      The Ballys shuttle has already stopped.

      • overloadinco

        Wow. Anytime I’ve taken it there were a lot of people on it. After Penn & Teller ends, there’s usually a queue that takes a few runs to clear.

        • Shelley

          We were there earlier this week, it was packed every time we rode

          • Bouldersteve

            It ended because its was too popular for people parking for free and not spending money at the Rio and just using the shuttle to avoid the strip parking charges.

          • Shelley

            I was staying at the Rio, we had a car, I do understand what you are saying.

  • Photoncounter

    I once took the Bally’s to Rio shuttle. One last minute passenger came on, kinda looked familiar. When we got to the Rio he stood up as everyone did. He was wearing shorts, I saw his injured leg.

    Stephen King

    My buddy and I were the only ones to recognize him. We did chat for a few minutes. He was in town to get inspiration for another novel.

    While we are light years apart politically I appreciate his skill as an author, director and certainly enjoy his books and movies.

    You never know who you will run into in LV….

  • Bouldersteve

    Although I never stay at the Rio i would still use the free parking to go to the strip. The walk is about 10 big deal now that the weather is cooler

    • Manybar Goatfish

      You must be in good shape. Looks more like a two hour hike to me.

      • Bouldersteve

        Would not recommend walking at night. That pedestrian bridge next to the freeway attracts it fair share of the down and out.

        • Sylv Taylor

          This is really late, but my husband and I are in wheelchairs and had to take that bridge at night– we’ve wheeled just about everywhere and in questionable areas, but that was genuinely scary. It’s way out of the way, NO lighting, NO way for cops to easily get to you if anything goes down.

          Unfortunately, being a disabled couple, lyft and uber are really not that convenient, so we are often stuck with the bus, taxis or paratransit. Losing a shuttle is no good.

    • Richard Kwiatkowski

      It can be a ‘big deal’ for those that are physically challanged, no matter what the weather.

      • Bouldersteve

        Understand..was speaking only about myself

      • Bouldersteve

        Understand. Was only speaking for myself

  • Mary Romero

    That’s a big bummer! We have reservations there next month, and one of the things we really liked about staying there was the shuttle to the strip. May have to re-think staying off-strip.

  • VegasSlushy

    Of course the free shuttle is going bye bye. Since they aren’t charging for parking at Rio, they have to up the profits somehow. Cut down on all the costs associated with the shuttle. That won’t equal the revenue that paid parking would generate, but it’s a start. Look for other cost cutting efforts in the coming year, no doubt.

    At this point why not sell it off to another casino conglomorate and have them rebrand it? The “Rio” fun of Rio is long gone, anyway.

  • Mike L

    Wow they just took away all incentive to stay at the Rio. I understand people parking for free there and using it to get to the strip. Here’s a solution to that… make people show a Rio or other Caesar’s room key to use the shuttle or print a shuttle pass and include it as a charge in the BS Resort Fee.

  • Sherri Benedict

    $8-$10 uber or lyft vs FREE…am I missing something here… big mistake Rio… you just lost a customer… NO that was not the only reason I like to stay there but it was a PERK

  • Richard Kwiatkowski

    As a Caesars only property player, this is disappointing. I prefer Rio because of easy access away from the strip traffic, and the size of their rooms. The shuttle dropped me off in the middle of several Caesars properties so it was an easy solution for me to go play. I agree with another posters suggestion of issuing a pass for ‘guests’ of Caesars properties. Possibly expand that to a minimal fare for those without. …
    Somehow they need to keep the shuttle, just make it viable for all parties.

  • Ed

    As an European traveller that has visited Last Vegas twice a year for over 15 years I saw the Strip changing from a great tourist destination to nothing special and Downtown is changing for the best.
    If I understand correctly locals do not visit the strip a lot so they need tourists badly.
    Higher hotel prices, paid parking and extra fees makes me want to avoid the Strip.

    Vegas is changing for the worst and will soon not be THE place to be for tourists. Many people from Europe now go to Dubai, Hong Kong/Macau instead.

    I stayed in Rio and Orleans quite a lot and used their shuttle. It is sad to see it go.

    • Appreciate hearing your thoughts about this. Vegas sometimes jeopardizes long-term for short. Hopefully, there’s still a lot to love.

  • Wolfdog

    I aint gonna lie. Countless times, we’d stay and play at the GoldCoast. Use Rio shuttle to go to the Strip, and back. Preferred it over the Coast shuttle.
    May actually stay at GC less often now.

    • Appreciate your thoughts. Hadn’t considered that.

  • Jeff Peck

    We always took the free shuttle to The Rio. We won’t be visiting them anymore. This is really going to hurt them.