Las Vegas� Monorail a Bust, Just Five Years After Opening
Photo: Las Vegas Monorail Co.
Las Vegas� Monorail a Bust, Just Five Years After Opening

Las Vegas Monorail Co., private owner of a $650-million, 4.2-mile automated rail line connecting eight Las Vegas Strip resorts and the convention center, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on January 13, one month after an announced $500-million expansion to McCarran International Airport.

The dual-line system began operation on July 15, 2004. Granite Construction Co. Inc., Watsonville, Calif., and Bombardier built the monorail under a $354-million, fixed-price contract.

Estimated to carry 40,000 passengers a day, the monorail ran into trouble when, on Sept. 1, a 20-in., 60-lb rubber steering tire broke off during transit. Officials replaced the wheel assemblies and reopened the automated line on Sept. 7, only to shut it down again the next day when a 2-lb., 6-in. driveshaft flange fell off a train and struck the 750-kV rail track, causing a small electrical explosion.

Lower-than-expected ridership and cash-flow woes subsequently plagued the monorail, which hopes to lower its bondholder payments through the reorganization.