The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) has approved a contract for the Boring Company to build an underground transit system which would run less than one mile near the north end of The Strip.
The Boring Company’s project—called the LVCC Loop, but referenced in documents as the “Campus Wide People Mover”—will transport passengers from one end of the city’s convention center to the other.
KTNV reported passengers will ride in a “bus-looking Tesla electric car,” that will reach speeds of 50 mph.
In March, the authority voted to move forward with the Boring Company after reviewing nine proposals ranging from monorails to gondolas. The Boring Company’s proposal was “considerably cheaper” than the other options, Steve Hill, LVCVA’s president and CEO, told Elizabeth Lopatto at The Verge.
The total cost listed on the contract is $48,675,000. The project will be paid for with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority’s general fund, which largely consists of hotel taxes. Rides will be free.
The transit system is needed, according to LVCVA, because the convention center is undergoing an expansion that will add a new exhibit hall, requiring visitors to travel a distance of one mile from one side of the campus to the other. The transit system will shorten what would be a 15-minute walk to a one-minute ride, according to the Boring Company.
The transit system would travel through a 0.83-mile tunnel—a bit shorter than the 1.14-mile proof-of-concept tunnel that the Boring Company dug beneath its Hawthorne, California, headquarters, and reportedly cost $10 million. The Las Vegas project would also require two side-by-side tunnels instead of just one, as well as stations, passenger access, and ventilation systems. A short pedestrian tunnel would be built for passengers to get to one of the stations.
The convention center gave an estimated completion date of 2021, but in March, Boring Company founder Elon Musk tweeted that the project could be running by the end of 2019. The timeline on the contract shows public tests starting by November 1, 2020.
The contract also shows an operating capacity averaging 4,400 passengers per hour, but there is no specification about what types of vehicles will be used, only “autonomous electric vehicles at high speeds.”
LVCVA president Hill told The Verge that “Model Xs, Model 3s, or modified electric vehicles with a 16-person tram body” are under consideration. Last December, rides through the Boring Company’s test tunnel were provided on human-operated Tesla Model X SUVs, although the original plan showed electric skates or “pods” that look more like traditional trams.
According to Hill, “you can load all 10 of them up and take off in a platoon instead having to take off one at a time.”
Teslas or no Teslas, the Boring Company’s people mover will be right at home in Vegas, a longtime hotbed for experimental transportation modes, with several trams and people movers that help visitors navigate gargantuan casino complexes, as well as a monorail that connects the convention center to some hotels. Last year, an autonomous bus operated in the city’s downtown.
Although it’s not technically public transportation, as it will run mostly under convention center property, the Vegas people mover will be the first publicly accessible project for the Boring Company, which has seen progress on at least three other projects stall in cities across the country.
Last year, the Boring Company was awarded a $1 billion bid for a proposed 18-mile tunnel to O’Hare Airport in Chicago, with Chicago officials attending the opening of the Hawthorne, California test tunnel in December. But when Chicago’s new mayor, Lori Lightfoot, was sworn in this week, it signaled the likely demise of the project. Former mayor Rahm Emanuel was an enthusiastic supporter the project; Lightfoot, who called Musk’s invention a “Tesla in a tunnel,” not so much.
Elsewhere, the Boring Company has held public meetings in Los Angeles for the Dugout Loop, a proposed two-mile tunnel to Dodger Stadium, and a tunnel from Washington D.C. to Baltimore is undergoing environmental assessment, although it’s unclear if it will still house a hyperloop system.
The Vegas project also comes with larger aspirations: Maps provided by the Boring Company show an expansion of the Vegas tunnel system that will eventually serve all casinos on the Strip, as well as the airport—and beyond. At the bottom of the map is an arrow pointing south, marked “Los Angeles.”