Las Vegas Monorail
Las Vegas Monorail
|System||ALWEG (inflated rubber tires on concrete guideway)|
|Locale||Las Vegas Strip, Nevada|
|Stations||7 (5 more stations to be added, including 2 underground at the airport)|
|Daily ridership||12,075 (Quarter 4 - 2011)|
|Opening||July 15, 2004|
|Owner||Las Vegas Monorail Company|
|Operator(s)||Las Vegas Monorail Company|
|Character||Elevated (two future underground stations)|
|Rolling stock||9 Bombardier MVI trains|
|Line length||3.9 mi (6.3 km)|
|No. of tracks||2|
|Minimum radius||< 60 m|
|Electrification||750 V DC third rail|
|Operating speed||50 mph (80 km/h)|
|Highest elevation||60 ft (18 m)|
The Las Vegas Monorail (formerly MGM Grand-Bally's Monorail) is a 3.9-mile (6.3 km) monorail mass transit system located on the Las Vegas Strip, in Clark County, Nevada, United States. It connects the unincorporated communities of Paradise and Winchester, and does not actually enter the City of Las Vegas. It is owned and operated by the Las Vegas Monorail Company. For tax purposes, the Monorail is registered as a not-for-profit corporation, which is allowed under Nevada law since the Monorail provides a public service. The state of Nevada assisted in bond financing, but otherwise no public money was used in construction; citizens may eventually have to pay taxes that fund the monorail.
The Las Vegas Monorail project was built by Bombardier Transportation upon an existing free monorail that ran between the MGM Grand and Bally's, closing a long gap in the Strip that tourists usually had to travel on foot.
After many delays, the finished Las Vegas Monorail opened to the public on July 15, 2004 with the completion and testing of "Phase 1."
During testing and commissioning, the monorail suffered several malfunctions that delayed the start of passenger service for almost a year. The most serious of these problems related to parts falling from the monorail to the ground under the tracks.
On September 8, 2004, more problems with falling parts led to the closing of the monorail for nearly four months. It reopened on December 24, 2004. A number of repairs were made to the monorail cars during this shutdown. Each time the monorail system requires major engineering changes, it must undergo a lengthy "commissioning" process to confirm the effectiveness and safety of the repairs. The local press reported that each day the monorail was down cost the system approximately $85,000, and that over $8.3 million was lost as a result of this one shutdown.
Transit Systems Management officials cited the good handling of crowds during the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2005 as proof that the system can handle a major convention.
On February 2, 2005, the monorail system had to be shut down again due to problems with the electrical system. Reportedly, a short circuit required replacement of a 30-foot (9.1 m) section of the power rail. The system reopened about 12 hours later.
July 2005 set a record for ridership for the monorail, with over one million passengers. BankWest debuted a red "MoneyRail" branded train, and joined Nextel Communications (now a part of Sprint Nextel Corporation), Hansens Beverage, and Paramount Studios (with a Star Trek themed train) as corporate sponsors.
On July 8, 2005, Transit Systems Management announced that it would shut down, turning over its responsibilities to the Las Vegas Monorail Company, the system operator. Curtis Myles, a former deputy general manager of the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada, became President of the Las Vegas Monorail Company. He assumed his duties on July 18.
Expansion plans took a step forward on November 1, 2005, when the County Commission approved a study into the feasibility of an airport extension.
On June 6, 2006, it was announced by the Las Vegas Monorail Corporation that Las Vegas Monorail revenues rose nearly 16 percent from the previous year, to $3,250,565 in April 2006. Likewise, ridership had also increased, from 563,823 riders in January 2006 to 704,527 in April 2006. New ticket distribution and marketing efforts had been implemented to continue the trend, including a ticket brokerage program that provided convention attendees with monorail tickets in advance and a national public relations program.
On January 13, 2010, the Las Vegas Monorail filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection. The filing will not affect system operations and will have no impact on the Monorail’s hours of operation or service to its customers.
On March 11, 2011, the Sahara Hotel and Casino announced that it would close its doors May 16, 2011. The closure is significant for the monorail as the Sahara is connected to the monorail's northern terminus at the Sahara Station. The station, however, is also accessible from street-level. On the same day of the Sahara's announcement, the Las Vegas Monorail Company announced that the Sahara Station would remain open after the closure of the Sahara. However, closure of the Sahara has been cited as one of the significant reasons for ridership dropping in 2012. In 2013, a new hotel casino, the SLS Las Vegas began renovating the former Sahara location giving rise to the expectation that monorail revenues will rebound once the SLS opens.
The present monorail (Phase 1 of the overall project) begins at the MGM Grand Hotel near the south end of The Strip, and runs roughly parallel to the Strip on its eastern side. The monorail passes next to the Convention Center and the Las Vegas Hotel & Casino, both with stations, before ending at the former Sahara Hotel location at the north end of the Strip. The ride takes about fifteen minutes to travel its total distance of 3.9 miles (6.3 km).
The monorail generally runs behind the eastern Strip side hotels and casinos, a long block away from the Strip. Usually, it requires a walk through a casino to get to the Strip, emerging upon the Strip in front of the property. This lack of a direct presence on the Strip along with criticized ticket prices has been a factor in the rather slow acceptance of the monorail.
The proposed New Las Vegas Arena, to be built behind Bally's and Paris Las Vegas, could be accessed from the existing Bally's station.
System name and sponsorship
The Las Vegas Monorail was named the Robert N. Broadbent Las Vegas Monorail in honor of Robert N. Broadbent, whom Las Vegas officials credit with gaining the support from the public and officials needed to bring the monorail to fruition. Broadbent, a former Boulder City mayor, Clark County commissioner, assistant secretary of the United States Department of the Interior, and McCarran International Airport director, died in 2003, a few months before the system's scheduled opening. The Las Vegas Monorail Company is the company's official corporate name.
The Las Vegas Monorail generates revenue not only from ticketed passengers, but also from corporate sponsors. Branding rights for the seven stations and the nine trains are available, and the sponsorship prices are in the millions. Hansens Beverage sponsored the first monorail train, featuring its Monster Energy drink. Nextel Communications created a totally themed pavilion by branding the largest station, adjacent to the Las Vegas Convention Center. Since the Sprint-Nextel Merger in late 2005, Nextel Central has been rebranded as Sprint Central. However, in late February 2008, the Sprint Nextel Corporation terminated their sponsorship contract.
Construction and planning
The Las Vegas Monorail was designed by Gensler of Nevada, engineered by Las Vegas based Carter & Burgess (now Jacobs Engineering Group Inc.) and constructed by Granite Construction, Inc. of California, one of the largest civil contractors in the United States.
The Las Vegas Monorail vehicles and signal systems were developed by Bombardier Transportation. The technology for the monorail vehicles came directly from the well-tested monorail systems running in Walt Disney World. Bombardier constructed Mark VI Monorail trains both for the Walt Disney World Monorail System and for Las Vegas.
Stations listed from north to south:
- Sahara Station
- Las Vegas Hotel & Casino Station
- Las Vegas Convention Center Station
- Harrah's / The Quad Station
- Flamingo / Caesars Palace Station
- Bally's / Paris Las Vegas Station
- MGM Grand Station
The monorail uses nine Bombardier MVI trains that have four cars in each of the fully automatic trains. The guideway is built to the "ALWEG" track standard. For the first seven years, the line only ran as the MGM Shuttle, between MGM and Bally's stations. During this time, two ex-Walt Disney World Mark IV monorail trains were used. Though the Las Vegas and related train equipment appear superficially similar to the original ALWEG design (as exemplified by the Seattle system), their suspension and propulsion systems differ substantially. A Seattle train may be walked end-to-end which is impossible on a Las Vegas or Florida train. The ALWEG Mark VI system used in Las Vegas Monorail consists of two inline large truck tires per car that support the load over the concrete guideway with a rectangular cross section and eight guide tires that straddle the guideway from both sides. The total capacity of the four-car trains is roughly equivalent to two articulated buses at 80 seated and 160 standing passengers. The maximum speed is 50 miles per hour (80 km/h), although that speed is only reached during one short straight segment of the line.
All trains in the system have available advertising and branding opportunities. By selling advertising and branding rights for the trains, the system earns additional revenue.
$5.00 Single Ride: Good for one person for one entry/ride.
$12.00 Unlimited Day Pass: Good for unlimited travel for one person for a consecutive 24-hour period during operational hours. The 24-hour clock begins and the expiration date and time are stamped on the ticket with first use at the fare gates.
$28.00 Unlimited Three-Day Pass: Good for unlimited travel for one person for a consecutive 72-hour period during operational hours. The 72-hour clock begins and the expiration date and time are stamped on the ticket with first use at the fare gates.
Purchase prices are online prices. Prices at Monorail Stations may differ. Additionally, Nevada residents may purchase up to two single-ride tickets per day for a discounted price of $1.00 each; these are available only from the customer service booths located at the Sahara and MGM Grand stations.
Hours of operation
7:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. Monday to Thursday
7:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. Friday to Sunday
To Downtown Las Vegas
Phase 2, a 2.3-mile (3.7 km) long extension along Main Street to Downtown Las Vegas was planned, with new stations at the Stratosphere Hotel, Charleston Boulevard, Bonneville Avenue and Main Street Station. Construction was planned to begin in 2005 with service starting in 2008. However, the anticipated funding from the federal government was not allocated in 2004, so the plans were put on hold. On January 27, 2005, the federal government announced that it would not provide money for the $400 million project.
The original plan was to open the system in January 2004, and for it to cover its debts and operating expenses by attracting 19 to 20 million riders. Since the system was not only delayed in opening, but later shut down for four months, income was not as great as organizers had hoped. This reportedly is a contributing factor for the government's denial of Phase 2 funding.
To McCarran International Airport
Phase 2 was revised to instead extend the monorail system in the opposite direction, south from the MGM Grand Station to McCarran International Airport. Providing monorail service to the airport has been an unpopular idea with limousine and taxicab operators in the city, as trips to and from the airport form a major portion of their business. Several hotel and casino owners on the Strip continue to support the project, and are more supportive of an extension to the airport than one to downtown Las Vegas.
On December 7, 2006, Clark County commissioners granted permission for the proposed extension to McCarran Airport. Funding had not yet been identified.
On September 9, 2008, the monorail company provided details of the proposed expansion to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors' Authority board members. The intended airport extension would begin at the new Terminal 3, with the first stop near Terminal 1, turn north on Swenson Street, then continue west on Tropicana Avenue before turning north at Koval Lane to meet up with the existing system behind the MGM Grand. This route is proposed to be built with private funds. This would add approximately four miles to the existing route, doubling the length of the system.
When the monorail company first announced details of the extension in September 2008, the airport extension was to be built with private funds and was expected to be built by 2012. However, as of March 2011, the Las Vegas Monorail Company was still in the planning phases of the proposed extension to McCarran International Airport with a proposed stop on the UNLV campus.
- "Ridership". Las Vegas Monorail. 2011. Retrieved 14 January 2012.
- Arthur Andersen LLP (1999-06-17). "Note 7. Investments in unconsolidated affiliates". MGM Mirage · SC 13E4. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Retrieved 2008-10-09. "Effective December 10, 1993, the Company through its wholly owned subsidiary, MGM Grand Hotel, Inc., and Bally's Grand Inc. ("Bally's") formed a 50/50 joint venture, MGM Grand-Bally's Monorail, LLC. The joint venture was intended to construct, own and operate the MGM Grand-Bally's Monorail."
- See AMBAC Assurance Reply filed in In re Las Vegas Monorail Company, 429 B.R. 770 (2010) (Docket No. 169)
- Las Vegas Monorail to take a ride out of town?
- "Las Vegas Monorail files for bankruptcy protection". Las Vegas Sun. 2010-01-13. Retrieved 2010-01-14.
- "Sahara's closure on May 16 will mark 'the end of an era'". Las Vegas Sun. 2011-03-11. Retrieved 2011-03-23.
- "Sahara's closure could hurt monorail, but station will stay open". Las Vegas Sun. 2011-03-11. Retrieved 2011-03-23.
- "Las Vegas Monorail ridership continues to fall". LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL. 2012-11-10. Retrieved 2013-02-12.
- Clark, Andrew. "How Las Vegas transport gamble turned into a one-track ride to ruin", The Guardian, February 16, 2008. Retrieved February 16, 2008.
- "Las Vegas Monorail Company". Entity details. Nevada Secretary of State. Retrieved 2008-01-16. "LAS VEGAS MONORAIL COMPANY; Status: Active; File Date: 5/12/2000; Type: Domestic Non-Profit Corporation; Corp Number: C13309-2000; Qualifying State: NV"
- McGinnis, George (2004-01-30). "Walt Disney World's Mark VI Monorail". Retrieved 2008-10-09. "The approximate 1.6 km guideway of the MGM-Grand Bally's monorail line, which used two Mark IV's, will be integrated and re-equipped. These twice-retired trains were built in the '80s and since retirement from WDW have operated for over seven years in Las Vegas."
- "Las Vegas Mark IVs retire. (1/29/03)". News Briefs Archives - November 23, 2002–February 16, 2003. Monorails.org. 2003-01-29. Retrieved 2008-10-09. "Two dutiful Disney-built Mark IVs retired for the second time Sunday night. Previous to Las Vegas, they operated for many years in Florida at Walt Disney World... designed to be a catalyst for a larger Las Vegas Monorail, which will be achieved when the current track is connected to a four-mile system under construction. New automated Bombardier MVI trains will run along the same tracks when the new line opens in early 2004"
- Krischer, Reinhard. "ALWEG's Heritage in Las Vegas". Retrieved 2008-10-09. "So the development of the ALWEG monorail, technically described as „a rubber-tired straddle-beam monorail“, and its technology concept - today used by the now opened Las Vegas Monorail - originated in 1951 in Cologne-Fühlingen."
- "ALWEG Beam Comparison Chart". Monorails.org. Retrieved 2008-10-09. "[Type] Disney-Bombardier [type currently available for purchase] [Width] .66M 26" [Height] 1.22M 48" [Width at Endpoint] 2.03M 80" [Locations] Walt Disney World, FL (1971), Las Vegas, NV (1995)"
- "Comparisons to Other Systems". The Urbanaut Monorail Technology. Retrieved 2008-10-09. "The ALWEG monorail system is a 50 year old antiquated monorail concept... Examples are Seattle, Disneyland, Disneyworld and Las Vegas monorails in the U.S, and the Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and several monorails in Japan."
- Disney/Bombardier suspension
- Disney/Bombardier rolling stock
- "Ticket Information". Lvmonorail.com. Retrieved 2010-08-27.
- "Expansion". Lvmonorail.com. Retrieved 2010-08-27.
- LV cab, limo companies rap monorail
- "Airport Extension". Neighborhood Meeting. Las Vegas Monorail. 26 July 2008. p. 9. Retrieved 26 April 2011.
- reviewjournal.com - News - COUNTY COMMISSION: Monorail extension gets OK
- "Monorail Looks to Expand to McCarran Airport - KLAS-TV Channel 8 News Las Vegas". Lasvegasnow.com. 2008-09-09. Retrieved 2010-08-27.
- "Las Vegas Monorail didn't do much for the Sahara". Las Vegas Review-Journal. 2011-03-23. Retrieved 2011-03-23.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Las Vegas monorail.|
- Official website
- Robert N. Broadbent Las Vegas Monorail, Nevada at Monorails.org
- Ridership Graph 2005–2006
- Rail transit map of Las Vegas (to scale)