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Boring Co. loop handles CES rush with no hangups

Updated January 6, 2022 - 6:28 am

Day 1 of CES was the second big test of the Boring Co.’s underground transportation system at the Las Vegas Convention Center, and by most accounts it handled Wednesday’s convention traffic with ease.

Normally the largest convention in the city each year, CES is expected to see reduced attendance this year amid a surge in coronavirus cases. Still, many attendees took advantage of the Convention Center Loop to travel between the convention center’s West, Central and South halls.

“We are thrilled to debut the Convention Center Loop to CES attendees,” Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority spokeswoman Lori Nelson-Kraft said in a statement. “Since the system debuted in June, customer feedback consistently ranks the Convention Center Loop as entertaining, innovative and their favorite part of their convention experience.”

The first major test of the system occurred in November during the SEMA automotive trade show, which saw around 100,000 attendees.

On Wednesday, conventioneers were shuttled through the 0.8-mile tunnel system by 70 Tesla model vehicles. There were no lines of waiting passengers and no backups in the tunnels. As one vehicle transporting passengers approached a station, another would exit one of the bays, allowing for seamless operations.

The LVCVA estimates the system can handle up to 4,400 passengers per hour, which was confirmed during a stress test last year.

Many conventioneers took selfies with the Teslas and shot photos and videos while being driven to their destination.

In years past, conventioneers would have had to walk from hall to hall — even more of a chore this year with the recently completed West Hall being utilized.

Penn Brownlee, from Spokane, Washington, said he heard of the loop before his arrival at CES and noted the convenience factor.

“I rode it central to west and west to central,” Brownlee said. “It’s convenient for not having to deal with traffic and it’s efficient.”

Brownlee’s only gripe was the speed of the vehicle, as the Teslas used in the loop went 30 to 40 mph Wednesday. But officials say faster speeds aren’t feasible with the loop just 0.8 miles long and three stops along the way.

Faster speeds will be an option if plans to extend the loop system into the resort corridor come to fruition. The proposed Vegas Loop would stop at various hotel properties, Allegiant Stadium and eventually Harry Reid International Airport. Work on that could begin by the end of the year, LVCVA President and CEO Steve Hill said in October.

Brownlee said he would be interested in utilizing that loop once the system is built.

“Yeah, seems like a better use,” Brownlee said. “I would use it for sure … . It seems like it would work really well.”

Other attendees were a bit more skeptical of the loop system. Ren Henry, from Atlanta, was attending his first CES but also attended the National Hardware Show at the convention center in October. After utilizing the loop for a pair of shows, Henry said he wasn’t yet sold on it.

“I’m not very impressed with it … . Outside of a walking standpoint, I just don’t see the point,” Henry said. “It’s a cool gimmick I guess, but maybe somebody smarter than me can explain the value in this.”

Henry said he doesn’t see how the system could be more beneficial than the Las Vegas Monorail, which already serves the resort corridor.

The major difference between the two is the planned Vegas Loop would run point to point, meaning riders would go directly from point A to point B without having to stop in between as they would on the monorail.

Even after learning about the differences between the two systems, Henry remained skeptical but was open to being proven wrong.

“Again, not too impressed,” Henry said. “But I’m willing to be convinced otherwise.”

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter.

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