Las Vegas’ Convention and Visitors Authority has recommended selecting Elon Musk’s The Boring Company to build and operate a “people mover” at Las Vegas’ convention center, says Steve Hill, LVCVA’s president and CEO. If the LVCVA’s directors approve the move, the goal is to build The Boring Company’s system in time to be used for the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2021, Hill says. The project would be relatively small, encompassing the convention center itself rather than transporting people across town or to the airport — but The Boring Company could expand the tunnel system after it’s constructed.
“I think the system is an attraction in and of itself,” Hill says. The LVCVA, which Hill heads, is a government agency that’s tasked with attracting visitors to Las Vegas.
The Boring Company won’t make specific design and construction plans until after the LVCVA directors vote on March 12, but the LVCVA estimates that the construction will cost $30 million to $55 million, according to a LVCVA press release. The Boring Company’s proposal was “considerably cheaper” than the other options the LVCVA considered, Hill says. The Boring Company’s president, Steve Davis, says that the project could be done in a year.
The promise is, essentially, an underground highway system that allows passengers to go directly from their station to another one elsewhere in the convention center. It’s a more complicated version of the test tunnel the company unveiled in December. It’s not clear what kinds of vehicles will be used in the system yet, though Hill says that Model Xs, Model 3s, or modified electric vehicles with a 16-person tram body are all under consideration. The number of stations and positions for the stations at the convention center isn’t known yet either.
The Las Vegas Convention Center, which hosts about a million visitors every year, is expanding to be about a two-mile walk from one end to the other. (The distance is shorter as the crow flies, but unfortunately, crows rarely pay to attend conferences.) The people mover is meant to make it easier for visitors to access the sprawling campus. In December, the LVCVA issued a request for information and got nine responses, which included ideas like trams, gondolas, and monorails, in addition to The Boring Company’s submission. After that, the group requested proposals for the site and received six. A committee reviewed those six submissions, interviewed two finalists, and recommended The Boring Company on Friday, Hill says.
This is a smaller project for The Boring Company than its proposed Chicago Express Loop, which is currently facing political headwinds. It’s also smaller than the proposed DC to Maryland tunnels, which would run about 35 miles. “It’s simpler than some of our other projects,” says Davis. There are also fewer landowners involved in this tunnel than in other Boring ventures — here, it’s only the LVCVA.
The Boring Company stood out because it was cheaper than the other proposals, but also less disruptive, Hill says. Because the system is below ground, it can be built without interfering with the construction on the surface.
Las Vegas has shown enthusiasm for new transportation technology: robot taxis, vehicle-to-infrastructure communication, and even self-driving shuttles. If the people mover is successful at the convention center, there may be opportunities to connect it to a larger system, Davis says. “When people come and use this system, they’ll like it or not like it, and if they like it there are useful places to go,” Davis says. The Boring Company likes opportunities where there are obvious next steps — so if the LVCVA tunnel succeeds, it might make sense to connect it to the Las Vegas strip or the local airport, Hill says. Parts of the Las Vegas strip are already connected to the convention center by way of a monorail.