UPDATE: May 23, 2019: The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) Board of Directors on Wednesday approved a $48.7 million contract with Elon Musk's The Boring Company to design, construct and operate a "people mover" for the city's convention center.
The news comes on the heels of reports that board members were considering taking a second look at a bid from Austrian company Doppelmayr Garaventa Group, which has a 125-year legacy in the space.
The Los Angeles Times reports that ahead of the vote, some board members still expressed concerns about taking a risk on a startup like The Boring Company. However, a majority of the 14-member board supports the Boring Company's plans to carry passengers in autonomous electric vehicles underneath the Las Vegas Convention Center along a track that would span 1.5 miles.
- The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) has recommended selecting The Boring Company to design, construct and operate a "people mover" for the Las Vegas Convention Center.
- The underground transportation system would carry passengers through tunnels at high speeds in autonomous, electric vehicles. The estimated cost is between $35 million and $55 million.
- The LVCVA Board of Directors is expected to approve the recommendation March 12. If it's approved, specific design, construction and operating plans, along with a formal contract, would be advanced to the board for approval by June. If the project moves forward, it is tentatively scheduled for completion in time for the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January 2021.
Various committees have been discussing for some time adding a people mover to the convention center campus as part of the facility's renovation and expansion. One reason cited for building a transportation solution is that the expansion will make the convention center about two miles long from end to end. Last year, LVCVA put out a request for information, and then a request for proposals, for a people mover.
If this project reaches completion, it would be Boring's first successful underground transportation network for public use. The Elon Musk-owned company has submitted numerous project proposals and started a handful of projects, but thus far momentum seems to quickly fade. Boring received a permit from Washington, DC last year for preliminary work on a top secret project, but not much has come of that. After a couple years of trying to create a high-speed tunnel system under Los Angeles, last fall the company announced it was scrapping its plans and moving the project — which was still only in the planning phase — to a different part of the metro area as part of a settlement with environmental groups.
And last summer The Boring Company was chosen to build and operate a high-speed, underground transportation line from downtown Chicago to O'Hare airport, less than 20 miles away. But last month, The Verge reported that the project was running into a lot of snags. In fact, there's still no contract for the deal and the plan is in danger of not getting formally approved.
Las Vegas' underground transportation project holds a slightly higher probability to reach completion than some others The Boring Company has undertaken due to the leg work that has already taken place. LVCVA president and CEO Steve Hill told The Associated Press he doesn't expect permitting to hold up the Las Vegas project. No firm details of the underground transportation network have been revealed, but preliminary ideas include building the system so it can be expanded to the Las Vegas strip, downtown and airport.
What is perhaps a bit unrealistic is the project timeline. For such an extensive transportation network to be built and operating about a year after anticipated approval is a lofty goal. That's especially true for an innovative concept that hasn't yet been proven in the public space. When, and if, the underground people mover does begin operating, it has the potential to transform how visitors get around Las Vegas and would further the city's growing reputation as an innovation leader.