Hardly Anyone Wants to Ride the Las Vegas Monorail
Published on December 31, 2017 at 09:40PM
Motherboard describes riding the Las Vegas monorail in 2008. “I was literally the only person on a train built to carry 222 people,” arguing that “the tale of the Las Vegas monorail is an allegory for almost every other monorail that exists on this planet.” An anonymous reader quotes their new report:
Las Vegas has struggled to deliver on its monorail promise since the 3.9-mile track opened in 2004. The track runs parallel to the Strip — behind all the massive, block-wide hotels. When the project was first proposed, promoters hoped to bring upwards of 20 million riders a year. In 2016, just 4.9 million monorail rides were taken. For reference, nearly 43 million people visited Las Vegas last year, according to the city’s visitor bureau, and the city has a population of about 632,000.
In 2010, the not-for-profit company in charge, named Las Vegas Monorail, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after failing to repay $650 million in construction loans. (It exited bankruptcy proceedings two years later.) But in true Las Vegas style, instead of taking the loss and heading home with its tail tucked between its legs, the company is doubling down. Now it’s anticipating spending an additional $100 million in private financing to extend the monorail from the MGM Grand to Mandalay Bay — a distance of less than a mile by foot. The company also asked the county to give it $4.5 million of public funds a year for 30 years to support the extension.
A Las Vegas newspaper got a succinct appraisal of the extended monorail’s prospects from the director of USC’s Transportation Engineering program: “I’m glad it’s not my money.” Next year ticket sales are expected to bring in just $21.4 million — “the lowest amount since 2014” — with the Monorail Co. blaming “additional competition” from Uber and Lyft.
But Motherboard argues that it’s not just a Las Vegas problem. “In most cities where monorails exist, most people can’t figure out what they’re good for. In Mumbai, India, a three-year-old monorail does just 17,000 daily rides — significantly short of the 125,000 to 300,000 passengers per day planners and backers anticipated.”
Read more of this story at Slashdot.