LVCVA to Buy Las Vegas Monorail, Bankruptcy in the Mix

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) is buying the beleaguered Las Vegas Monorail for $24.26 million.

Although, we’re thinking that purchase price could be rounded down given the national coin shortage.

Anyhoo, the acquisition of the monorail by the LVCVA marks the latest twist in a long, bumpy ride for the long-ailing transit system handcuffed by the fact it doesn’t go to the airport or downtown Las Vegas.

Las Vegas Monorail

The Las Vegas Monorail runs 3.9 miles, which sound exhausting.

The monorail has been shut down since March 18, 2020 due to the pandemic.

The Las Vegas Monorail has been in operation since July 15, 2004. Except for a short period during which various monorail parts fell off.

The LVCVA purchase will be accompanied by the Las Vegas Monorail filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The “pre-packaged” bankruptcy would put the monorail up for auction, but trust us, nobody else is buying but the LVCVA.

Technically, the Las Vegas Monorail is a not-for-profit corporation, and it has certainly lived up to that designation.

The Las Vegas Monorail previously filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2010.

Las Vegas monorail

The Las Vegas Monorail uses the same trains as Disneyland. The only difference is Las Vegas Monorail tickets don’t require taking out a second mortgage.

A key element of the LVCVA’s purchase of the monorail is it opens up some interesting possibilities related to a noncompete agreement that says outside companies can’t build alternative transit systems on The Strip. With this sale, that noncompete is done.

One alternative system, an underground people-mover from Elon Musk’s Boring Co., is nearing completion at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The tunnel system is already approved to expand to Wynn Las Vegas and Resorts World.

It’s worth noting we did not make a “nearing completion” joke. It’s called maturity.

As part of the LVCVA’s purchase agreement, it would have to pay to dismantle the monorail should it fail. Sorry, fail more. That’s expected to cost about $11 million.

The LVCVA says the monorail won’t operate longer than eight or 10 years tops, even under the best conditions, as nobody’s making the system’s Bombardier Mark VI monorail trains anymore. Replacing them would cost about $200 million.

While the monorail has taken some hits, and ridership has never met expectations, it’s beloved by many, and our grandmother really enjoyed her ride that one time in 2004.

Monorail grandma

Miss you, Gram, and thanks for the Blazing Sevens mojo from wherever you are.

The issue of transportation in Las Vegas is complex, which does not meet our mandate of keeping things superficial, so please explore the subject at your nearest library.

Because, come to think of it, libraries are like monorails. They’re great in theory, we know we should use them, but at some point, there needs to be a reality check.

Update (9/7/20): As anticipated, the Las Vegas Monorail filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Sep. 7, 2020.

23 thoughts on “LVCVA to Buy Las Vegas Monorail, Bankruptcy in the Mix

    1. JR

      I used it for the first time last trip (New Years) and found it useful. I got extremely cheap tickets (free) which is what prompted me to give it a try. Obviously a connection to the airport or downtown would most likely make it profitable, but my reason for not using sooner or more often is the cost of tickets. Not sure if they’ve tried in the past but maybe trying to profit on high volume (cheap tickets) rather than the expensive tickets resulting in minimal ridership would help.

        1. David F

          Its expensive for what people associate as public transit, people expect rides in the $2-3 range. A lift is only $10-15 to get up and down most of the stops on the monorail, share that with friends and its the better deal. Monorail only is a value if your trying to get to the convention center from one of its hotel stops or going to the Sahara. Even then the conventions typically have free busses so why pay for the monorail? Either your cheap enough where you expect it to be free-$3 or rich enough where you will just take a cab.

          Having said that I used to use it for CES when I would stay at the Sahara which was super convenient. I hope they make it free to use for conventions which will help reduce the need for bussing.

    1. Rick

      The strategy is mentioned, there is a non-compete for other transit systems. The Tesla People mover is the new and move efficient system they are installing but the non compete is a problem. Buying the monorail allows them to end the non-compete and then setup a plan to shut down the system as the people mover begins to take over the coverage.

  1. Dean

    I don’t know why people always talk about the monorail not going to the airport was a mistake. Nobody would have taken this to their hotels with multiple bags to haul from the monorail stops located far from check in desks. We’re seeing that now when people complain about valet not being open. Visitors want convenience and the cost of extending tracks to the airport would have made this project an even bigger loser.

    1. Jackson

      Mostly yes and a tiny bit no.

      In general, I agree that the connection to the airport isn’t some magic solution to profitability. The reasons you mention are precisely why. Those are the reasons why mass transit connections to airports in the US aren’t typically worth the cost. It only works if the stations on the existing transit route have a ton of hotel rooms and/or residential units without an easy walk. Otherwise, it’s simply easier to use some form of car/van from the terminal to your destination.

      (Transportation relates tangentially to my PhD dissertation. So, the above is a layperson’s summary of academic research.)

      That said, the hotels that are connected to the monorail could use remote Front Desks at the airport. (Those existed at some point at LAS. No clue if they are still there.) Guests hand over their bags at the airport Front Desks, hand over their bags, and take the monorail to the hotel. The bags then get delivered to the room within X hours.

      Or, hotels could send special baggage tags to guests. The hotels collect tagged bags at the airport and deliver them to the room within X hours. (That’s a system that is used at Disney World.)

      So, there are some workarounds possible. Yet, they’d only work for a few hotels. Any hotels on the west side of the Strip are too far from the monorail stops to work. I’d imagine the cost/benefit analysis concluded that the airport extension simply wasn’t worth the cost to serve the handful of hotels on the east side of the Strip.

  2. charles murray

    My Wife And I Rode the Monorail at Least Twice While on Vacation ,We thought it was fun. However i was very Surprised to find that it Didn’t go very far. But it was still better then Walking. It is very good for certain Hotel Casinos Like Mandalay Bay And Luxor. It Seems to me that Since this is Vegas The Monorail could be Reinvented for orther uses if they could not run it in the Future. And the Future IS IN LAS VEGAS. The Imagination and Top Notch Skills are Everywhere. When And IF the day comes it can no Longer be Used I Hope the Rail Cars DON’T Just Sit Somewhere And let Mother Nature take over. But When it Starts Running Again i hope it gets Very Busy. One more thought, The Monorail Should be Advertised More once it looks like it can Reopen.

  3. Mike Alexakis

    If you like rear ends, the monorail is great, Only at the MGM Grand is it anywhere close to the front desk of one of the hotels it serves. The Deuce, which is the city bus that goes up the strip, is cheaper and way more convenient.


    I’ve used the mono quite a bit, $5 from MGM to Sahara can’t be beat any other way except maybe the bus. It’s quick and usually not too crowded, two other things I like. It’s limited obviously by the lack of connectivity to the other side of the strip. Had they made it a “loop” that ran the full length on both sides it might have been more successful.

    Obviously assuming something like “normal” returns post-COVID, it’ll be nice to have the mono back. Long term something else will have to take its place and be much more comprehensive. Maybe we’ll all be tunnel runners in a few years.

  5. elbogz

    Your report is pretty accurate. The Monorail was never meant for luggage and the airport was never an option. It’s predecessor , Monorail 6 at Disneyland went in a straight line from point A to point B. It was awesome doing that. But when it had to take a right turn at Twain and a left turn at Koval it broke and pieces fell to the ground. It doesn’t go up grades or down grades very well. It was really good 1990 technology, but not 2020 technology

  6. Jed

    The Monorail is a colossal embarrassment for one of the most sophisticated cities in the world. I’ve ridden it a few times, and afterward, always ask myself why. Ten more years of the Monorail sums up to 26 years too many of that piece of junk.

  7. MrBuzzkill

    The mono had a secret, tho. It was a backdoor from the Convention center south exhibit halls to Caesar’s new convention facility via the “rear end” of the Linq and Flamingo. If you’ve made that business trip by car, then you know the mono would’ve been like magic during any show that spans the centers. Of course, those huge shows like CES are now nothing but a fond memory today.

    1. mowogo

      CES was the primary time I would ride the monorail. Given traffic around Sands and the Convention Center, buses end up being a slow way to get from the strip to the convention center.

  8. Sven

    Monorail is Just like the monorail in Dubai, fancy and Well known but without a good Price and top destinations its not gonna be a hit, make the las Vegas monorail connect to the airport and major hotels it wound be a big hit

  9. Mike

    The convention bureau buying the monorail is the best solution. Given the route as it now has, the convention center is the only real use. It is so far to any station from the actual strip, it is really not much farther to walk to wherever you are going. Taxi stands are very convenient, and many folks are in Vegas to gamble and party, as such, after sticking $50 in a slot 30 seconds previously, the cost of a taxi ride is usually not noticed. Of course the “I don’t gamble crowd” will certainly notice.
    I agree that the airport is probably not going to be a great add-on. With the scenario mentioned by Jackson, where the hotels would shuttle your luggage to their facility I would participate for arrival, but most of the time our flight home is early morning and that would not work… that is a one way solution at best. A downtown route would be great and I would utilize that for sure. We go to Vegas twice a year or so, but had not been downtown in 7 or 8 years, until last year. A reasonably place tram station would change that.
    As for those saying it is 1990’s technology and out of date, I don’t get that……it is clean, looks safe enough, goes from one point to another…..other than the points are not a real place of interest to most, it’s ok. After all aren’t cars basically1920 technology?

  10. Chris R

    Every year I go to Vegas at least once and every visit I get a week long pass, usually a BOGO from My Vegas. People complain about how far it is from some monorail stations to get to a casino. Have you tried weaving your way through the masses walking and gawking along LV Blvd? The Monorail through the years has been great. Going to the airport was never going to happen but a loop on both sides of the strip or an extension that went downtown would have been awesome. Sounds like pretty soon the Monorail will RIP but I hope it is still up and running when I’m there in Nov.

  11. Marshall

    The Monorail was a folly. Why would anyone want to take that thing?

    I suspect that the ridership never rose over the Nile River Ride at the Luxor.

  12. adam

    Wish it went downtown. That would habe been a game-changer.

    But for the record, I take the train from Midway or O’Haire everytime I’m in Chicago. So it would be nice for the airport.

  13. William

    When ever I was in town, I always used the monorail. Its the fastest way to get from the LVCC to the strip, most of all during the CES Show.

    I dont get why the LVCC group would buy it only to tear it down. It doesn’t compete with the Musk Tunnel as it goes to different places / casinos ??


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