Elon Musk Envisions Underground Transportation Network for Las Vegas Convention Center

Posted on: March 7, 2019, 09:35h. 

Last updated on: March 7, 2019, 09:35h.

Elon Musk could soon receive a contract worth as much as $55 million to build an underground transportation network below the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Elon Musk Las Vegas convention
Elon Musk is developing underground autonomous travel for future Las Vegas convention attendees. (Image: Las Vegas New Bureau)

On Wednesday, officials at the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) recommended that the city hire a company controlled by Musk to build infrastructure below the expanding facility. The network would transport attendees around via autonomous electric vehicles.

LVCVA President Steve Hill told the Associated Press that the design would likely feature three or four passenger stations, and be capable of transporting between 4,400 to 11,000 people per hour.

It’s really innovative. I think it will be an attraction in and of itself,” Hill stated. The underground network would measure roughly one mile.

The Convention Center is amid a $1.4 billion expansion and renovation that will add 1.4 million square feet of new exhibition space.

Convention and Gaming

Las Vegas’ convention industry directly impacts the overall health of Southern Nevada’s economy and the associated gaming industry.

Attendees accounted for more than 6.5 million arrivals last year, which represents 15 percent of Las Vegas’ total visitor volume. However, convention attendance was down 2.2 percent for the year.

The LVCVA reports that 74 percent of all visitors gamble at some point during their stay. That’s up five percent from 2016.

The expanded convention center is ideally part of a rebirth of the Strip’s northern end. The agency is selling the vacant 10 acres of land where the Riviera once stood, and Resorts World and The Drew are expected to open in the coming years.

Betting on Musk

Elon Musk is a controversial choice for the LVCVA, as the billionaire has generated plenty of scandal in recent months due to his at times erratic behavior. He’s been scorned by stock market regulators, and resigned from chairing Tesla’s board last year.

His car company has also failed to deliver on orders, and he’s been accused by critics of overpromising. When it comes to underground infrastructure, however, the visionary says it will become a reality.

After building a test tunnel in Los Angeles, Musk said, “I’m actually going to do this.” On Twitter he added that traffic infuriates him, and he’s simply “going to build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging.”

Approval Process

The LVCVA is funded through a hotel occupancy tax in Clark County. For the money to be allocated for the Musk underground project, Hill’s team will need to present the proposal to the LVCVA board of directors for approval.

It might not be an easy decision for the 14-member panel.

In January, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement issued a decree barring Atlantic City casinos from doing business with Tesla for five years. The decision was a result of the state finding that the car manufacturer had placed multiple charging station devices at the Golden Nugget and Borgata without completing the necessary paperwork.

DGE Director David Rebuck said in an explanation, “When you (Tesla) were contacted again, you claimed the division was harassing you, insisting that you not be contacted again. Licensure is the cornerstone of the regulatory system.”