Las Vegas Monorail Breeds Baffling Brouhaha

The fact the Las Vegas conversation is so active and passionate online is both a blessing and a curse. In this case, it’s just confusing.

The Las Vegas Monorail derailed the conversation for roughly 24 hours as a flurry of Twitter posts and news stories grappled with a long-standing question: What’s happening with the monorail?

We got to the bottom of this weird affair. Or possibly caused it. Not that we have to make everything about us, probably.

future monorail2
Yes, we have photos of the real Las Vegas Monorail, sometimes referred to as “elevated rail.” Boring. Fun fact: Elevated Rail was the name of our band in high school.

Where to begin.

The first recent news story we recall seeing about the monorail was a musing in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, “From Buses to Monorail: Array of Options for A’s Ballpark Transportation Plan.”

A story like this is an example of putting the cart before the horse, because there’s a lot of uncertainty about: 1) whether the A’s are moving to Las Vegas, 2) who’s paying for a ballpark, 3) where the ballpark could end up if the deal falls through on the Tropicana site, 4) whether voters will have a chance to nix public financing of the ballpark, etc.

Discussing specifics of transportation to an imaginary A’s stadium in Las Vegas is akin to nailing down which color glitter your unicorn will be wearing to compete in the annual Atlantis Games.

That story came and went with zero pandemonium.

Then our friend Corey Levitan, longtime Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist (we try not to hold that against him) and our current colleague at, wrote a story with the headline, “End of the Line for Las Vegas Monorail.” It’s possible Levitan’s story got the ball rolling on #Monorailgate (not a real hashtag, thankfully). Levitan did not, however, say the monorail is closing anytime soon. He simply reported what the LVCVA has said all along, the monorail will be taken out of service at some point, 2030 at the latest.

See, the company that makes the monorail cars is defunct. As in you can’t get more, and parts are hard, if not impossible, to come by. These are facts, not conjecture. The monorail has a built-in expiration date.

Following Levitan’s story, our friend Las Vegas Locally posted, “There are no plans to get rid of the Las Vegas Monorail, despite rumors to the contrary.”

Never one to leave well enough alone, we Tweeted our slightly different take.

Please note we didn’t say the monorail is closing in the near future. We simply shared the fact the LVCVA plans to dismantle the monorail.

The LVCVA announced this four years ago, and nothing’s really changed since then, other than some whimsical conjecture about resuscitating the monorail to take people to an imaginary baseball stadium.

monorail future1
This is as likely to happen as the renderings shared by the A’s.

While we couldn’t find anyone saying (rumor or news report) the monorail is shutting down, it seems our Tweet was interpreted that way by some people, as the official Twitter account of the Las Vegas Monorail posted a response to a “report” we presumably missed.

In case that embedded Tweet goes away someday, it simply said, “The report that the Las Vegas Monorail is winding down operations is 100% inaccurate. The Monorail is operating very successfully and the LVCVA has no plans to cease operations.”

Again, despite upwards of 15 minutes of relentless investigative reporting, we have been unable find any report or rumor the monorail is “winding down” or words to that effect.

We did question the “operating very successfully” aspect of the Tweet, as we’d always assumed the monorail operates at a deficit, as it has from day one. It has filed bankruptcy twice.

A rep from the LVCVA corrected our incorrect assumption, “The LVCVA purchased the Monorail in December 2020 and resumed operations in May 2021. Since then, ridership and revenue have met or exceeded projections. In 2023, the monorail carried more than 5.5 million passengers, the highest ridership since 2009. Since July 2023, the monorail has earned more than $8 million in net revenue, significantly more than the cost to operate and maintain the system.”

That’s right, The Las Vegas monorail made $8 million net revenue since July 2023. “Net” means “after expenses,” also known as “profit.” Color us shocked. The monorail doesn’t even go to the airport.

It costs about $500,000 to operate the monorail each year, so the monorail is operating in the black according to the LVCVA. Apparently, what they say about assuming is true. Let’s pause for a moment while our fellow youths watch a segment from a 1970s TV show, “The Odd Couple.”

As for the part about “the LVCVA has no plans to cease operations”? That’s a little trickier, because it means the LVCVA, apparently, doesn’t currently have a specific plan to cease operations of the monorail. That’s probably because the closure of the monorail is years away. We can barely plan what we’re having for lunch today, much less something six years away.

That does not mean, however, the LVCVA plans to keep the monorail operating forever. It can’t due to the reasons we’ve already stated. No new cars, no new parts. Disneyland uses the same system, and they’re screwed, too.

It’s not a matter of whether the monorail will meet its end, but when. This has been the plan from the moment the LVCVA purchased the monorail. The only thing that’s changed is the monorail is holding up better than expected.

An LVCVA rep says, “While the LVCVA does not intend to invest in purchasing new trains, because of a rigorous maintenance and parts replacement program, the trains have a longer lifespan than originally anticipated.”

It’s been estimated a revamp of the monorail could cost $200 million, and that was in 2020 dollars. Nobody’s signing up to make that investment, especially given the monorail’s history of financial problems. Further investment in the monorail is especially unlikely given the LVCVA is funded by tax dollars. Las Vegas has enough boondoggles without dumping more tax money into another one. Las Vegas is simply boondoggled out.

There’s a new transportation system in town, Elon Musk’s Vegas Loop underground cavalcade of Teslas. And Musk’s Boring Company is paying for it (except for the casino stations). Is it a true public transportation system? No. But it’s a hoot, and Vegas loves itself a hoot.

Vegas Loop
Suspend your disbelief for a minute, the Vegas Loop is a blast.

But back to the monorail ballyhoo. Or possibly skirmish. Uproar? Foofaraw? We’d say furor, but a community college student would take it the wrong way and we’d be canceled. We’ll go with “foofaraw,” as it needs to make a comeback, possibly on TikTok.

To confuse matters further, the Las Vegas Review-Journal published a story in response to the back-and-forth online with the lede, “Contrary to social media rumors the Las Vegas Monorail remains on track to transport riders in the resort corridor well into the near future.”

The mind reels.

First, what social media rumor is being addressed? Who said anything was happening with the monorail in the “near future”?

Second, what in the holiest of wordmush hells does “well into the near future” even mean?

The story intended to dispel the rumor the Las Vegas monorail will be decommissioned goes on to confirm the monorail will be decommissioned. We are not making this up. The Review-Journal story states, “But the LVCVA likely will look to repurpose it at some point when it is decommissioned in its current form.”

Repurposing means the monorail will close and become something else. The LVCVA says repurposing might involve using the “raised guideways” that hold the tracks. The story relays Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority President and CEO Steve Hill “…envisions a potential elevated expressway, of sorts, with a couple of lanes of traffic in each direction, potentially tying the guideways into Boring Co.’s Vegas Loop operations.” Today’s thing that’s never happening, all due respect. Unless the traffic involves Tesla unicycles.

The Review-Journal story intended to quell rumors the monorail will close says, “Another factor that could lead to the end of the monorail is the expansion and larger use of The Boring Company’s Vegas Loop operations…” What part of that is “the monorail is 100% not closing,” again?

The story goes on to quote Steve Hill, “Our thoughts are we would like to extend this (monorail operations) as long as it makes sense to do so. That end could happen because the trains do wear out and are not replaceable.”

This is exactly the plan the LVCVA announced in 2020.

future monorail
We’ll have flying cars by 2030, but this will do in a pinch.

Our LVCVA contact says, “The LVCVA is committed to keeping the Monorail in service until is no longer operationally and financially feasible to do so, and there is no absolute timeline for this.”

So, it seems everyone involved in this confounding kerfuffle is correct in their own way. Nobody said there’s an absolute timeline for the closure of the monorail, and there is no absolute timeline for the closure of the monorail, which is definitely closing.

The monorail isn’t closing or “ramping down” until “well into the near future.” The monorail is, however, closing down when it’s no longer operationally feasible to operate it. Like everything mechanical thing in the world.

In other words, the monorail goes away by 2030. You’ll manage. Take rideshare. All the kids are doing it.

Update (4/10/24): We’ve been informed between the publication of Levitan’s piece on and Las Vegas Locally’s Tweet, there was a post by another Twitter account, @VegasIssues. The since-deleted Tweet said something along the lines of, “The Las Vegas Monorail is going away.” The Tweet went viral for some reason, getting a million impressions before it was removed. That Tweet also didn’t say the monorail is closing soon. The Vegas Issues post apparently sparked Las Vegas Locally’s post, and the rest is history.

The post Las Vegas Monorail Breeds Baffling Brouhaha appeared first on Vital Vegas.

You May Also Like