Las Vegas Convention Board Votes to Spend Millions on People-Movers

Posted on: January 13, 2021, 02:13h. 

Last updated on: January 13, 2021, 02:39h.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority this week agreed to spend $51.25 million on transportation systems to help convention-goers get around.

The Boring Company
The Boring Co. displays tunnel-boring equipment and other machinery at its test tunnel in Hawthorne, Calif. The company is building an underground transit system in Las Vegas. (Image: USA Today)

The money that the LVCVA board approved Tuesday will be spent over three years on the Las Vegas Monorail and a people-mover by Elon Musk’s Boring Co., according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman voted against both items, the newspaper noted.

Goodman said the Monorail is “doomed to failure” because its route does not include downtown Las Vegas or McCarran International Airport. The airport is near the southern end of the Las Vegas Strip. The downtown area is about six miles north of there.

The Monorail’s 3.9-mile route runs behind the major hotel-casinos on the east side of the Strip. This route includes a station for the Las Vegas Convention Center. Among the resorts on the route are the MGM Grand, Bally’s, and the Sahara Las Vegas. The MGM Grand is about a mile and a half from the airport.

The mayor voted against Boring out of concern that the underground transit system will not operate properly. This will be first time Boring has built a project like this anywhere in the world. Goodman said the transit system is too important for the LVCVA to be the first customer, the newspaper reported.

Tesla Transportation

In the vote Tuesday, the LVCVA board agreed to pay $45 million to Western Management Group to operate the Monorail from early next month through June 30, 2023, according to the Review-Journal.

The LVCVA bought the elevated transit system out of bankruptcy in December for $25.2 million. Late last year, the LVCVA retained the Los Gatos, California-based Western Management Group to manage the Monorail.

The LVCVA also voted to pay Boring $1.25 million for this fiscal year and $5 million in 2022. This allows Boring to operate the Convention Center Loop underground network. Until events return to the Convention Center, Boring will receive $167,000 a month to maintain the system. This is expected to last until June.

The Tesla electric vehicles used in the system will be operated with drivers through 2021, the newspaper reported. After that, the system will run on its own. 

The LVCVA also agreed to let Boring dig tunnels connecting the Convention Center with Encore at Wynn Las Vegas. Encore is a hotel-casino on the east side of the Strip.

Casino Closures

The LVCVA votes reflect the importance of conventions to Southern Nevada. Conventions and large events are viewed as vital to filling up hotel rooms. 

Since the onset of the coronavirus, tourism has been in decline in Las Vegas. With conventions on hold, this decline has been especially noticeable during the midweek days. The occupancy rate in Las Vegas in November was above 55 percent on the weekends, but below 33 percent on weekdays.

This midweek slump has forced some resorts to close their hotel towers during the middle of the week. Others have shut down their hotel and gaming operations during the slow midweek days. Executives at these resorts have said the properties will be fully operational again when consumer demand picks up.