LVCVA moves forward with first underground people mover in Las Vegas
Clear the track — the Mover is on the move.
The board of directors of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA, which produces Las Vegas Newswire) on May 22 approved a $48,675,000 contract with Elon Musk’s The Boring Company (TBC) to build a high-speed people mover for the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC). The project is designed to quickly and safely transport passengers throughout the convention center campus in autonomous electric vehicles through a loop of underground express-route tunnels.
Targeted for completion and opening in time for the massive CES convention in January 2021, the people mover is projected to link the convention center to Downtown, the Las Vegas Boulevard resort corridor and McCarran International Airport.
“It’s a system that has high capacity, it’s innovative, it’s fun, we think it will be a great customer experience,” said LVCVA CEO and President Steve Hill.
“We’re excited about the opportunity with the Boring Company. It’s a day to celebrate but it’s also a day to get to work. … We have a lot of partners involved in the effort, so the county’s involved, all the utilities are involved … We have a general idea of how it will be laid out but we will work with our customers to make sure it meets their needs.”
In a statement, Steve Davis, TBC’s president, said that the company “is excited to contribute to the future of Las Vegas and work with leaders who have a vision for transportation.”
Highlighting the project will be three underground passenger stations, a pedestrian tunnel and two vehicular tunnels with an expected length of one mile. Also included will be: an elevator/escalator system for passenger access to each station; pedestrian entrances, exists, landscaping and coverings from weather elements; tunnel lighting, power and video surveillance systems; a fully equipped control room; communication necessities such as cell phone, WiFi and intercom/public address capabilities, plus remote data; and ventilation/life safety systems.
The loop will be designed for ridership of at least 4,400 passengers per hour, and will be scalable, depending on LVCC attendance.
In voting to approve the contract, LVCVA board vice chairman Bill Noonan compared it to the advent of the Fremont Street Experience (FSE) in 1995. “We all took a major gamble of $70 million to build and direct and operate the Fremont Street Experience — first of its kind anywhere in the United States,” said Noonan, who is senior vice president of industry and government affairs for the Boyd Gaming Corp.
“I don’t think any of us could have envisioned the success that we had with FSE and what it meant to make this community truly something different, especially Downtown Las Vegas. It made us competitive once again, where up until that point you could honestly say we weren’t as competitive as we could be. We see the Boring Company project in much the same vein. It is truly unique, it’s one of a kind and it will be a kind of event and kind of attraction that people all around the country are going to want to come and see.”
The LVCVA contract approval caps a process that began in 2018 with requests to gauge interest for the project, followed by a proposal, and interviews with selected finalists by evaluators from the LVCVA, private organizations (including a Las Vegas resort property) and a consultant with expertise in transportation systems.
“The concept is creative, it’s bold, it’s innovative, which I consider to be quintessentially Las Vegas traits,” said LVCVA board treasurer Chuck Bowling, president and COO of Mandalay Bay. “It will be an attraction in itself and not to be found anywhere else in the world.”
The approved contract calls for an underground loops system offering reduced total costs, less disruption to pedestrian and vehicular traffic and faster construction time than traditional aboveground options, while increasing passenger and pedestrian safety.
“It is certainly less disruptive in the construction process as we go through that, which is important,” Hill said. “We want to make sure our customers are not inconvenienced during this. It will allow us to move people between the halls prior to us finishing the construction and the renovation, both. … And it’s got the potential to be used throughout the destination.”
Currently in the midst of an expansion — and celebrating its 60th anniversary — the Las Vegas Convention Center will span 200 acres when the renovation is complete. Conventioneers walking the facility will log approximately 1.5 miles end-to-end, hence the need for an on-property guest transportation solution.
In 2018, Las Vegas hosted more than 42 million visitors, and the LVCC attracts more than 1.6 million attendees annually.
Tourism remains crucial to the economy of Southern Nevada, generating $60 billion in revenue, supporting approximately 383,000 jobs — comprising 39 percent of Southern Nevada’s workforce — and $16.4 billion in local wages and salaries.