Las Vegas Monorail

Las Vegas Monorail

Infobox rail line
name = Las Vegas Monorail

image_width = 200px

caption = A monorail train arriving at the Sahara Station
type = Monorail
system =
status =
locale = Las Vegas Strip, Nevada
start = Sahara
end = MGM Grand
stations = 7
ridership = increase 22,893 (Quarter 1 - 2008 [ [ Investor Relations ] ] )
open = July 15, 2004
close =
owner = Las Vegas Monorail Company
operator = Las Vegas Monorail Company
character = Elevated
stock = 9 Bombardier MVI trains
linelength = 3.9 mi (6.3 km)
tracklength =
notrack = 2
gauge =
el =
speed =
elevation =

Las Vegas Monorail|
The Robert N. Broadbent Las Vegas Monorail (formerly MGM Grand-Bally's Monorail [cite web|url=|title=MGM Mirage · SC 13E4|chapter=Note 7. Investments in unconsolidated affiliates|publisher=SEC|date=1999-06-17|author=Arthur Andersen LLP|quote=Effective December 10, 1993, the Company through its wholly owned subsidiary, MGM Grand Hotel, Inc., and Bally's Grand Inc. ("Bally's") formed a 50/50 joint venture, MGM Grand-Bally's Monorail, LLC. The joint venture was intended to construct, own and operate the MGM Grand-Bally's Monorail.|accessdate=2008-10-09] ) is a 3.9 mi (6.3 km) monorail mass transit system located on the Las Vegas Strip, in the United States. It is owned and operated by the Las Vegas Monorail Company. For tax purposes, the Monorail is registered as a charity, which is allowed under Nevada law since the Monorail provides a public service. The state of Nevada assisted in bond financing, but otherwise no public money was used in construction, and no future taxpayer obligation will be incurred. [cite web |url= |archiveurl= |title= THE MONORAIL |archivedate = 2006-04-24 |accessdate= 2008-09-02 |work= |publisher= |date= [] ]


The Las Vegas Monorail project was built by Bombardier Transportation upon an existing free monorail that ran between the MGM Grand and Bally's, closing a long gap in the strip that tourists usually had to travel on foot.

After many delays, the finished Las Vegas Monorail opened to the public on July 15, 2004 with the completion and testing of "Phase 1."

During testing and commissioning, the monorail suffered several malfunctions that delayed the start of passenger service for almost a year. The most severe of these problems related to parts falling from the monorail to the ground under the tracks.

On September 8, 2004, more problems with falling parts led to the closing of the monorail for nearly four months. It reopened on December 24, 2004. A number of repairs were made to the monorail cars during this shutdown. Each time the monorail system requires major engineering changes, it must undergo a lengthy "commissioning" process to confirm the effectiveness and safety of the repairs. The local press reported that each day the monorail was down cost the system approximately $85,000, and that over $8.3 million was lost as a result of this one shutdown.

Transit Systems Management officials cited the good handling of crowds during the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2005 as proof that the system can handle a major convention.

On February 2, 2005, the monorail system had to be shut down again due to problems with the electrical system. Reportedly, a short circuit required replacement of a 30 foot (9.14 m) section of the power rail. The system reopened about 12 hours later.

July 2005 set a record for ridership for the monorail, with over one million passengers. BankWest debuted a red "MoneyRail" branded train, and joins Nextel Communications (now a part of Sprint Nextel Corporation), Hansens Beverage, and Paramount Studios (with a Star Trek themed train) as corporate sponsors.

On July 8, 2005, Transit Systems Management announced that it would shut down, turning over its responsibilities to the Las Vegas Monorail Company, the system operator. Curtis Myles, a former deputy general manager of the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada, became President of the Las Vegas Monorail Company. He assumed his duties on July 18.

Expansion plans took a step forward on November 1, 2005, when the County Commission approved a study into the feasibility of an airport extension.

On June 6, 2006, it was announced by the Las Vegas Monorail Corporation that Las Vegas Monorail revenues rose nearly 16 percent from the previous year, to $3,250,565 in April 2006. Likewise, ridership had also increased, from 563,823 riders in January 2006 to 704,527 in April 2006. New ticket distribution and marketing efforts had been implemented to continue the trend, including a ticket brokerage program that provided convention attendees with monorail tickets in advance and a national public relations programme.


The present monorail (Phase 1 of the overall project) begins at the MGM Grand Hotel near the south end of The Strip, and runs roughly parallel to the Strip on its eastern side. The monorail passes next to the Convention Center and the Las Vegas Hilton, both with stations, before ending at the Sahara hotel at the north end of the Strip. The ride takes about 14 minutes to travel its total distance of 3.9 miles (about 6.3 km).

The monorail generally runs behind the eastern Strip side hotels and casinos, a long block away from the Strip. To get to the Strip thus usually requires a long walk through one or more casinos, with the prospect of emerging upon the Strip in an unexpected location. This lack of a direct presence on the Strip along with relatively high ticket prices has been a factor in the rather slow acceptance of the monorail. [Clark, Andrew. [ "How Las Vegas transport gamble turned into a one-track ride to ruin"] , "The Guardian", February 16, 2008. Accessed February 16, 2008.]

The proposed New Las Vegas Arena, to be built behind Bally's and Paris Las Vegas could be accessed from the existing Bally's station.

ystem name and sponsorship

The Las Vegas Monorail is named for Robert N. Broadbent, whom Las Vegas officials credit with gaining the support from the public and officials needed to bring the monorail to fruition. Broadbent, a former Boulder City mayor, Clark County commissioner, assistant secretary of the interior, and McCarran International Airport director, died in 2003, a few months before the system's scheduled opening.

The Las Vegas Monorail generates revenue not only from ticketed passengers, but also from corporate sponsors. Branding rights for the seven stations and the nine trains are available, and the sponsorship prices are in the millions. Hansens Beverage sponsored the first monorail train, featuring its Monster Energy Drink. Nextel Communications created a totally themed pavilion by branding the largest station, adjacent to the Las Vegas Convention Center. Since the Sprint-Nextel Merger in late 2005, Nextel Central has been rebranded as Sprint Central, however in late February 2008, the Sprint Nextel Corporation sent the Las Vegas Monorail Company a letter stating that they were opting to terminate their contract, because the Monorail failed to meet the 1.2 million riders specified in their contract. All stations in the system are available for branding by companies and groups. By selling branding rights for the stations, the system earns additional income to limit the fares paid by passengers.Fact|date=June 2007

Construction and planning

The Las Vegas Monorail was designed by Gensler of Nevada, engineered by Las Vegas based Carter Burgess (now Jacobs Carter Burgess) and constructed by Granite Construction, Inc. of California, one of the largest civil contractors in the United States.

The Las Vegas Monorail vehicles and signals systems were developed by Bombardier Transportation. The technology for the monorail vehicles came directly from the well-tested monorail systems running in Walt Disney World. Bombardier constructed Mark VI Monorail trains both for Walt Disney World Monorail System and for Las Vegas.

The design of the monorail stations was executed by Carter Burgess.Fact|date=October 2008 The guideway design was mainly performed by Harry Jasper, Carlos Banchik, Paul Greco, Laura Thompson, Doug Morales and Khalil Amrikani.Fact|date=December 2007

Management structure

Having an independent non-profit corporation in charge of financing, maintaining and running the entire system was a relatively new idea with very few precedents. From the start, extremely high standards and great financial demands were set for what was a new, unproven management structure in the transit domain. The pressure to perform without losing money was great. It was expected that in addition to covering operating expenses and service of the debt, there would be surplus revenue that would be invested in expansion of the system.

Prior to the Las Vegas Monorail, no major urban transportation system in the United States operated without significant public funding. As reported in the "Washington Post"Fact|date=October 2008, a spokesperson for the largest association of transit utilities in the United States noted that New York city's subway system recovers only 67% of its operating costs through fares and advertising revenue, and that it New York is the best performer in the US in that respect.


Stations listed from north to south.

*Sahara Station
*Las Vegas Hilton Station
*Las Vegas Convention Center Station
*Harrah's / Imperial Palace Station
*Flamingo / Caesars Palace Station
*Bally's / Paris Las Vegas Station
*MGM Grand Station


The monorail uses nine Bombardier MVI trains that have four cars in each of the fully automatic trains. The guideway is built to the "ALWEG" track standard; for the first seven years the line only ran as the MGM Shuttle between MGM and Bally's stations—during this time two ex-Disneyland Mark IV monorail trains were used. [cite web|url=|first=George|last=McGinnis|date=2004-01-30|title=Walt Disney World's Mark VI Monorail|quote=The approximate 1.6 km guideway of the MGM-Grand Bally's monorail line, which used two Mark IV's, will be integrated and re-equipped. These twice-retired trains were built in the '80s and since retirement from WDW have operated for over seven years in Las Vegas.|accessdate=2008-10-09] [cite web|url=|title=Las Vegas Mark IVs retire. (1/29/03)|work=News Briefs Archives - November 23, 2002 - February 16, 2003|date=2003-01-29|accessdate=2008-10-09||quote=Two dutiful Disney-built Mark IVs retired for the second time Sunday night. Previous to Las Vegas, they operated for many years in Florida at Walt Disney World. [..] designed to be a catalyst for a larger Las Vegas Monorail, which will be achieved when the current track is connected to a four-mile system under construction. New automated Bombardier MVI trains will run along the same tracks when the new line opens in early 2004] [cite web|url=|title=ALWEG's Heritage in Las Vegas|first=Reinhard|last=Krischer|quote=So the development of the Alweg monorail, technically described as „a rubber-tired straddle-beam monorail“, and its technology concept - today used by the now opened Las Vegas Monorail - originated in 1951 in Cologne-Fühlingen.|accessdate=2008-10-09] [cite web|url=|title=ALWEG Beam Comparison Chart||quote= [Type] Disney-Bombardier [type currently available for purchase] [Width] .66M 26" [Height] 1.22M 48" [Width at Endpoint] 2.03M 80" [Locations] Walt Disney World, FL (1971), Las Vegas, NV (1995)|accessdate=2008-10-09] [cite web|url=|title=Comparisons to Other Systems|work=The Urbanaut® Monorail Technology|quote=The Alweg monorail system is a 50 year old antiquated monorail concept [..] Examples are Seattle, Disneyland, Disneyworld and Las Vegas monorails in the U.S, and the Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and several monorails in Japan.|accessdate=2008-10-09]

All trains in the system are available for branding by companies and groups. By selling branding rights for the trains, the system earns additional income to limit the fares paid by passengers. Branding income from the trains is much lower than the income received from the station branding.


Phase 2 to Downtown Las Vegas

Phase 2, a 2.3 mile (3.7 km) extension along Main Street to Downtown Las Vegas was planned, with new stations at the Stratosphere Hotel, Charleston Boulevard, Bonneville Avenue and Main Street Station. Construction was planned to begin in 2005 with service beginning in 2008. However, the anticipated funding from the federal government was not allocated in 2004, so the plans were put on hold. On January 27, 2005, the federal government announced that it will not provide money for the $400 million project.

The original plan was to open the system in January 2004, and for it to cover its debts and operating expenses by attracting 19 to 20 million riders. Since the system was not only delayed in opening, but later shut down for four months, income was not as great as organizers had hoped. This reportedly is a contributing factor for the government's denial of Phase 2 funding.

It is thus unclear if Phase 2 will ever be built. The Associated Press (AP) reported that Cam Walker, head of Transit Systems Management, the non-profit corporation charged with operating the monorail, said his company had no immediate plans to extend the monorail in any direction. The AP also reported that Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman has been looking at cheaper, alternative funding for a light rail system or high tech buses.

Phase 3 to McCarran International Airport

Phase 3 was planned to extended the monorail system south from the MGM Grand Station underground to McCarran International Airport. Providing monorail service to the airport has been an unpopular idea with limousine and taxi operators in the city, as trips to and from the airport form a major portion of their business. [ [ LV cab, limo companies rap monorail] ] Several hotel and casino owners on the Strip continue to support the project, and are more supportive of an extension to the airport than one to downtown Las Vegas. [Las Vegas Review-Journal article August 29, 2006] The airport extension will be built with private funds and is expected to be built by 2011. [ [ System's president sees bright future] ]

On August 28, 2006 the company announced that it is working on a revision of phase 3 that should be announced early in 2007. The plan would work with existing casino companies to add additional stations and connections to existing stations. The plan includes connections to all of the major convention centers and the airport. In addition the plan is expected to provide some connection to the three small monorails on the west side of the strip. [ [ Monorail set to grow] ]

At present, a feasibility study has been ordered to fit in with an upcoming expansion at McCarran Airport that would allow for an integrated station at the airport as part of the new terminal 3. The extension would begin at the new Terminal 3, with the first stop near Terminal 1, then north on Swenson Avenue, stopping at the Thomas & Mack Center at University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). The route would then continue north on Paradise Road and west on Harmon Avenue, with stops at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino and the proposed W Hotel (now canceled), [ [ w hotel las vegas ] ] before turning south on Koval and west on Tropicana to meet up with the existing system at the MGM Grand. This proposed route would be all overhead like the existing line and is proposed to be built with private funds. This would add 4.2 miles to the existing route more the doubling the length of track. [cite web |url= |title=Monorail to Connect Las Vegas Airport to Strip |accessdate=2008-09-02 |work= |publisher= Event Publishing LLC |date=2007-02-02 ] A formal proposal for this route is expected late in 2008. [cite news |first=Tom |last= Hawley |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=Las Vegas Monorail route revision |url=|work= KVBC |publisher= |date=2008-07-30 |accessdate=2008-09-02 ]

On December 7, 2006, Clark County commissioners granted permission for the proposed extension to McCarran Airport. Funding has not yet been identified. [ [ - News - COUNTY COMMISSION: Monorail extension gets OK ] ]

See also

* List of rapid transit systems
* Mandalay Bay Tram


External links

* [ Las Vegas Monorail web site]
* [ Monorail Stations Gallery] Dead link|date=June 2008
* [ Las Vegas Strip Map - Including Monorail Stops]
* [ Monorail Society Homepage] (good source for the technical details of trains, track and stations)
* [ Graph 2005-2006]

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