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RTC to examine proposal to extend monorail

The Las Vegas Monorail’s path to funding a mile-long extension might run with some help from the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada.

Without discussion, the RTC’s board of directors agreed Thursday to examine whether using the RTC’s credit rating to secure low-interest bonds makes sense, and to analyze the financial viability of linking the monorail’s existing MGM Grand terminus to Mandalay Bay.

A study by commission staff is expected to be presented to the RTC board in August, Monorail spokeswoman Ingrid Reisman said. The Las Vegas Monorail Co. is seeking permission to use the RTC’s credit rating to secure bonds that would be sold by the company to pay for the monorail’s extension to Mandalay Bay.

“The reason that we are considering this is because we’re in a very healthy position as a company, and extending the system to Mandalay Bay improves that position for the company,” Reisman said. “But also, it improves mobility and reduces congestion in the resort corridor.”

Las Vegas Monorail proposed extension

Last year, Las Vegas Monorail Co. President and CEO Curtis Myles told members of the International Monorail Association that the planned extension would cost about $100 million, including a new station and two new trains. Reisman said the price could change when the project’s designs are completed.

Reisman said the private, not-for-profit agency would face higher interest rates if it sold bonds on its own rather than going through the RTC, which has a better credit rating. Investors would also note that the Las Vegas Monorail emerged from bankruptcy restructuring in 2012, leaving the company with a 98 percent reduction of debt to $13 million and maintaining its not-for-profit status.

“The RTC needs to fully understand what the monorail is intending to do,” said Greg Gilbert, an RTC attorney. “No rock will be left unturned if this advances.”

Ridership and revenue for the Las Vegas Monorail have grown in recent years. More than 5.1 million passengers — mostly tourists and conventioneers — boarded the 3.9-mile, elevated system last year, up from 4.5 million riders reported in 2014, Monorail officials said. That’s a 16 percent increase.

The agency’s annual revenue grew by more than $2 million during the same period to $22 million.

Last month, the Clark County commissioners allowed the Las Vegas Monorail to pull from its investment earnings on the $6 million “doomsday” account that would pay for its demise, should the system ever fail. The earnings on the account amount to around $1.9 million, which will be used to secure a design and a guaranteed maximum price on the expansion.

Contact Art Marroquin at amarroquin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0336. Find @AMarroquin_LV on Twitter.

A previous version of this story incorrectly reported the monorail’s request to the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada. It is not seeking a line of credit.

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