Las Vegas may get Musk-designed people mover

Author: 
Staff

When it comes to putting heads in beds for conventions, corporate meetings or incentive travel trips, few destinations can match Las Vegas. Getting attendees around the city via affordable and easy-to-use public transportation is another matter.

That may be changing. The board of directors for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) recently approved a plan to work with Elon Musk’s Boring Company to design, construct and operate a people mover that serves the city’s convention center.

The first phase of the $35 to $55 million project would be limited to building underground express-route tunnels that could carry passengers in autonomous electric vehicles at high speeds in a two-mile loop on the convention center grounds. The LVCVA says the system could expand to connect to downtown Las Vegas, casinos and resorts along Las Vegas Boulevard and the city’s McCarran International Airport.

With several major projects in southern Nevada set to be completed in the next few years, the demand for improved mass transit is imminent. In addition to the convention center expansion, there is construction of Las Vegas stadium, MSG Sphere arena and the new Resorts World (on the site of the old Stardust Resort and Casino).

Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist Mick Akers reports the city’s transportation officials say at least one alternative mode of transportation will be needed within the next 10 years to link visitors between McCarran International Airport, the Las Vegas Strip and downtown Las Vegas. The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada has looked at nine transit technologies, including everything from buses and people movers to light rail and gondolas.

Currently in the midst of an expansion, the Las Vegas Convention Center will span 200 acres when completed in time for CES in 2021. Conventioneers walking the facility will log approximately two miles from end-to-end, hence the need for an on-property guest transportation solution.

Initial goals are for the Boring Company’s transit system to be fully functional before the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January 2021. Musk, who is notorious for overpromising and under-delivering, has stated on Twitter that the transport system could be operational by the end of this year.

The California-based Boring Company is involved in a handful of proposed high-profile projects, including a Chicago express loop to O’Hare International Airport and a “Dugout Loop” project that would transport baseball fans and concertgoers directly to Dodger Stadium from the Los Feliz and East Hollywood neighborhoods. However, the LVCVA people mover may begin construction before either of the other projects.

As Forbes technology and transportation writer Alan Ohnsman states, “for all his tunneling hype, to date Musk has only completed a 1.14-mile test loop tunnel system adjacent to Boring Co.’s Hawthorne headquarters.”