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Idled Las Vegas Monorail to be bought by city’s tourist authority

Las Vegas monorail
In this 2016 photo, the Las Vegas monorail pulls out of a station.
(John Locher / Associated Press)

The idled Las Vegas Monorail is being bought by the local tourism authority, which plans to arrange the system’s second Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 16 years.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority on Tuesday approved, by a series of 12-1 votes, spending $24.26 million to acquire the 3.9-mile elevated train system from the not-for-profit Las Vegas Monorail Co., the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported. Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman voted no.

The elected Clark County Commission also approved the move.

The system, which cost $650 million to build, shut down in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It makes six north-south stops, including at the Las Vegas Convention Center and several hotel-casinos east of the Las Vegas Strip.

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Officials said management and operations would change after the purchase by the authority, which also owns and operates the convention center.

The monorail workforce of about 120 has been reduced by furloughs to about 15 people. The Review-Journal said it was not immediately clear whether current management and staff would be involved once the buyout closes.

Resorts, casinos and restaurants are open but bars are not. Vegas still manages to draw some of its fans despite the pandemic

Tourism authority chief Steve Hill told the tourism board that the system could be obsolete in the next decade, but the purchase gives the authority a non-compete agreement on the east side of the Las Vegas Boulevard tourist corridor.

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.

MGM Resorts International is sending pink slips to about 18,000 employees, more than one-quarter of its pre-pandemic U.S. workforce, due to the slow recovery of some casino markets.

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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.

Hill said Tuesday that convention customers asked the tourism authority to keep the monorail operating because of its convenience, the Review-Journal reported.


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