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Monorail to use interest money to kick-start expansion to Mandalay Bay

The Las Vegas Monorail has inched a little closer to becoming a mile longer.

Clark County commissioners voted Tuesday to allow the Las Vegas Monorail Company to pull from investment earnings on the $6 million account put in place to pay for its demise, should it ever fail.

The company plans to use the money to extend its line to Mandalay Bay.

The earnings on the Monorail’s account amount to about $1.9 million, Monorail spokeswoman Ingrid Reisman said.

That money will be used to secure a design and guaranteed maximum price on the expansion, Reisman said. Once the company has a cost in place it can then go to the bond market for financing, she said.

“We would use those funds in a very measured way, in a very deliberate way,” Curtis Myles, president and CEO of the Las Vegas Monorail, told the commission April 5. Myles said the expansion had been in the works for three years and the Monorail Co. had done extensive analysis of ridership.

In 2015, Myles told members of the International Monorail Association that extending from the existing MGM Grand terminus to Mandalay Bay would cost an estimated $100 million. He said the project would mean a new station and two new trains.

Reisman said the company is focused on a Mandalay extension because it’s confident ridership will support the move. The change would mean going from connecting passengers to 26,000 hotel rooms to 35,000, she said.

The doomsday account dates back to a 2000 resolution signed by county commissioners. The update to the resolution allows the Monorail Co. to pull only from the account’s investment earnings and requires the company to pay back the account at a 4 percent interest rate.

The Las Vegas Monorail Company is a nonprofit. The elevated 3.9-mile system has been active since 2004. The monorail is on the rebound from the Great Recession. Hard economic times meant two years in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Court proceedings, which ended in 2012, left the company with a 98 percent reduction of debt to $13 million and maintained its not-for-profit status.

Myles told the commission at its April 5 meeting that the Monorail Co. was aware the transit system had seen “ups and downs” and said revenue was up and that the company was starting to gain traction and demonstrate its value to the resort community.

As to an extension to McCarran International Airport, which is the question everyone has whenever the monorail comes up, Reisman said it hadn’t been ruled out but wasn’t an immediate focus.

Contact Bethany Barnes at bbarnes@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861. Find her on Twitter: @betsbarnes

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