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Las Vegas monorail celebrates 10 years of operations

Reported by: Tom Hawley
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Updated: 7/25 12:38 am

LAS VEGAS (KSNV & MyNews3) -- The Las Vegas Monorail is officially celebrating its 10 year anniversary this weekend, but the actual opening was on July 14, 2004.

The track record for the monorail has not been outstanding, but these days there are some reasons for optimism.

Three years ago the local economy was still in the tank, the monorail was mired in bankruptcy proceedings, and already poor user numbers were dwindling with the recent closure of the Sahara. The picture was pretty bleak. Compared to that, today things are looking up.

At its opening ceremony, with all the Las Vegas trappings, Governor Kenny Guinn beamed. "With the millions of tourists who come here, they'll be able to park their cars. If they fly, they can just come out of the hotel,” Gov. Guinn said.

Even as a federal grant to expand downtown was looking good, there were mechanical glitches; pieces fell off the train. The system shut down for three months and matching funds went away.

When the system reopened Christmas Eve, rides were free to entice customers.

“The true test of the system has been the operations and the modifications that were made in the last month and how the train tested over the past month. During the past week and a half, the system has run over 8,000 miles of train testing," said Todd Walker with the Las Vegas Monorail.

Ridership numbers never lived up to projection and investors were given a re-education about the non-recourse bonds they had purchased.

Investors got back pennies on the dollar or nothing, but while ticket sales hadn't covered the debt service, after bankruptcy, they do cover daily operations.

Now with the recent opening of the LINQ project and the SLS opening on Las Vegas Boulevard, monorail operators are hoping for a new beginning.

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