The LVCVA believes the monorail system will likely stop operating within the next 10 years


he Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority voted to acquire the Las Vegas Monorail for over $24 million.

“Stepping up now and overseeing this transition is an important part of what we can do for Las Vegas,” LVCVA CEO Steve Hill said at a public board meeting Tuesday, when the tourism agency voted to approve the acquisition, as reported by Reno Gazette Journal. The elected Clark County Commission also approved the move, while Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman voted against it.

The elevated train runs a 4-mile route along the Las Vegas Strip, but operations have been suspended since March because of the coronavirus. The rail line is currently owned and operated by the private Las Vegas Monorail Company. It makes six north-south stops, including at the Las Vegas Convention Center and several hotel-casinos east of the Las Vegas Strip.

The tourism agency taking over the monorail means the collapse of a noncompete agreement that kept other companies from developing systems on the east side of Las Vegas Boulevard, Hill said. The monorail does not use public funding for operations and is billed as the only privately owned public transportation system in the U.S., according to the company website.

The LVCVA plans to guide the Las Vegas Monorail Co. through Chapter 11 bankruptcy, dividing the $24 million between creditors. The monorail system will likely stop operating within the next 10 years, Hill said, as there are no companies that produce the train cars that now ride the rails. Replacing the train cars could cost at least $200 million, he said. “The system cannot financially support that kind of investment,” Hill said. 

The deal, Hill said, creates the opportunity for the LVCVA to find competing transportation systems that can replace the monorail when it becomes obsolete.

Elon Musk’s Boring Co. is due later this month to begin testing an east-west underground people mover designed to whisk conventioneers between exhibit halls at the existing convention center and an expanded facility. Musk also got the go-ahead from county officials to extend his loop system using driverless cars from the Convention Center to Wynn Resorts’ Encore and the Resorts World project that is nearing completion across the street on the Las Vegas Strip.

Hill said the tourism authority would shelve proposals to build a new monorail station near the Sands Expo and Convention Center and the Venetian and an extension from the MGM Grand to the Mandalay Bay resort and Allegiant Stadium, the Associated Press reports.

The monorail began operations in July 2004. But it shut down two months later amid problems, including parts falling from the elevated track. It resumed operating that December. Ridership never met builders’ projections, peaking at nearly 8 million annually before the major recession that began in 2007. In recent years, ridership has fallen to less than 5 million a year.

The corporation reorganized after filing Chapter 11 protection in 2010 and emerged from bankruptcy two years later.

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