Boring Company proposes massive Vegas expansion following monorail bankruptcy
December 16, 2020
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Elon Musk’s tunneling venture, The Boring Company, is planning a massive citywide expansion of the currently modest underground transportation system it’s building in Las Vegas. The startup now wants to build a 10-mile sub-surface “loop” that serves the famous Las Vegas Strip of casino hotels and reaches the city’s downtown area as well as McCarran International Airport, all with Tesla vehicles. The Boring Company also wants to build an additional loop that connects properties owned by Caesars Entertainment.

The proposed new tunnels would make it possible to go from the Las Vegas Convention Center to Mandalay Bay in just three minutes, as opposed to 30 minutes by surface roads during peak traffic hours, the company claims.

The plans, first reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, were detailed in proposals submitted to Clark County officials on Monday. The Boring Company’s expansion push comes just days after the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) finished buying the Las Vegas Monorail, which filed for bankruptcy in September after shutting down in March.

Following the acquisition, the LVCVA killed a noncompete agreement that had previously kept The Boring Company from digging any tunnels that served the same areas reached by the monorail. The monorail is not expected to reopen until at least May 2021.

The Boring Company is still working on making its first underground people-mover open to the public in Las Vegas, located underneath the Convention Center (which is owned by the LVCVA). While it was originally slated to open in January 2021 in time for the yearly Consumer Electronics Show, the trade show’s shift to a virtual event (and the pandemic in general) has muddied those plans.

LVCVA president and CEO Steve Hill told The Verge in May that they would likely wait until the next available trade show to open the so-called Convention Center Loop. On Tuesday, LVCVA senior vice president of communications Lori Nelson-Kraft confirmed that this is still the most likely plan, saying she’s “unsure at this time if we’ll open up the system prior to the first large show we have inside our building.” The Boring Company did not respond to a request for comment.

The Boring Company plans to shuttle up to 4,000 passengers per hour through its tunnels using Tesla Model 3s, Model Xs, and a “tram” built on the Model 3 platform that can fit between 12 and 16 people, Hill told The Verge back in May. While the goal is for those cars to eventually operate autonomously, they will have drivers at the outset. Hill said that the people mover will evolve to following a “conduit” and sensors being laid in the tunnels before actually driving themselves.

The LVCVA announced that first project with the Boring Company in 2019 and is paying Musk’s startup $48.6 million to build the tunnels running under the convention center. Since it’s meant to be an amenity for convention-goers, Hill explained in May that he considered the full price tag of $52.5 million to be a sunk cost.

But the expansion, if approved, will be funded differently. The Boring Company will pay for the cost of constructing the main tunnel of the new citywide loop, according to a presentation Hill gave in November, while casinos and other properties along the route that want a station will have to pay to have them built. The company will present its proposal in front of the Las Vegas City Council on Wednesday and before county officials in February.

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