Tourism authority to buy idled Las Vegas Monorail for $24M

File - In this May 18, 2016, file photo, The Las Vegas monorail leaves a station in Las Vegas.

File - In this May 18, 2016, file photo, The Las Vegas monorail leaves a station in Las Vegas.

LAS VEGAS — The idled Las Vegas Monorail is being bought by the local tourism authority with plans to arrange the system's second Chapter 11 bankruptcy after 16 years of operation by a not-for-profit corporation.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority on Tuesday approved spending $24.26 million to acquire the 3.9-mile elevated train system from Las Vegas Monorail Co. a series of 12-1 votes by the authority board, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported. Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman voted no.

The elected Clark County Commission also approved the move.

The system shut down in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. It makes six north-south stops serving the Las Vegas Convention Center and several hotel-casinos east of the Las Vegas Strip.

Officials said management and operations will change after the purchase to 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, and the Review-Journal reported it was not immediately clear whether current management and staff would be involved once the buyout closes.

Tourism authority chief Steve Hill told the tourism board 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 The 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 expansion 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 will 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 monorail began operations in July 2004 but 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 Great Recession began in 2007. In recent years is 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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