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LVCVA to vote on Elon Musk’s underground transit system

Updated May 14, 2019 - 3:39 pm

A decision looms next week on a transit system for the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Should the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority approve an experimental underground people mover designed by Elon Musk’s The Boring Company that has never been deployed?

Or should it stay conservative with a tested elevated train with technology already used on the Las Vegas Strip?

The LVCVA board of directors received an update Tuesday on the transit proposal destined for a vote May 22.

The Musk concept is a point-to-point on-demand system with vehicles capable of transporting up to 16 people at a time.

The system would use autonomous electric vehicles, or AEVs, on three types of Tesla Model X chassis with rubber tires operated in automatic pilot mode.

Using paired one-way tunnels with a series of on- and off-ramps, the AEVs could be hailed by app for direct service to another station. Conventioneers would access the underground system by elevator or escalator.

The Boring proposal has been endorsed by a committee of six reviewers, three from within the LVCVA and three independent.

The last time board members talked about the transit system in March, they voted 10-3 to move ahead on contract details and fine-tuning the proposal.

One of the votes in opposition came from Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, a board member, who continues to have concerns about whether Boring can deliver what it promises.

“Now is not the time to experiment with an untested, unproven transportation system that will impact our region’s most important industry,” Goodman said in a memorandum she delivered to board colleagues prior to Tuesday’s meeting.

She took the step of inviting Markus Schrentewein, CEO of Austria-based Doppelmayr Garaventa Group, to address the board.

Doppelmayr, which has developed 15,000 transit systems worldwide, including the elevated systems that link Excalibur with Mandalay Bay and Bellagio with Park MGM through CityCenter, finished second among the 10 initial requests for information solicited by the LVCVA.

The Doppelmayr system is a more conventional monorail-style system with stops along each station along the track.

As for cost, the Boring system was the clear winner, offering the system for $52.5 million, compared with an estimated cost of $85 million for the Doppelmayr. Boring also proposed to finance the project because company officials envision it as a showcase to prove its technology.

LVCVA President and CEO Steve Hill noted that the company offered to post a bond to mitigate costs if the system did not work properly and trade shows and conventions at the Convention Center were affected.

Goodman noted that the untested and untried Boring system had no track record for safety. She also said the Boring system would require hiring paid staff to direct customers to board vehicles while the Doppelmayr system would function automatically.

The Boring system would serve 16 passengers at a time; the capacity on a Doppelmayr train is 168.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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