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EDITORIAL: Red flags galore for Las Vegas Monorail extension

The expansion of the Las Vegas Monorail to Mandalay Bay now appears more hype than reality. Perhaps the project will eventually proceed, but consider the predictable pattern.

Red flag No. 1: In December, monorail officials trotted out bogus ridership and revenue projections to justify the $110 million plan. The underlying assumptions for the proposed 1-mile extension included a 40 percent increase in ridership during the second year of completion and the doubling of ticket revenue by 2025.

A transportation expert at USC told the Review-Journal that this would make the Mandalay Bay terminal “probably the most productive transit stop I’ve ever hear of.”

Red flag No. 2: The Review-Journal’s Michael Scott Davidson reported last week that work on the new segment has been delayed. Monorail officials touted a June start date for construction, providing a more than two-year cushion for finishing the project before the NFL’s Raiders play their first game in Las Vegas at a new stadium across Interstate 15 from Mandalay Bay. It’s now mid-July and Clark County has yet to approve the required construction permits. Tick-tock.

Red flag No. 3: The money for the project has yet to materialize. The monorail is run by a private company, yet county commissioners last year inexplicably agreed to set aside $4.5 million annually in room tax revenue for the next 30 years that the rail line could borrow in emergencies. The fund was supposed to make it easier for monorail officials to obtain private financing for the extension given that potential investors might be queasy about the line’s checkered financial past. So far, though, investors aren’t biting.

“Any information on construction of financing of the project,” a monorail spokesman wrote last week, “will be released in due course.” Feel free to read between the lines.

The international distress sign consists of a trio of similar signals. The three red flags couldn’t be any clearer.

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