Elon Musk’s loop against the monorail – TechCrunch

The last fight in Las Vegas does not take place in a noisy casino boxing ring, but in the hushed rooms of the planning committees. Defending champion, Las Vegas Monorail, takes on upstart challenger The Boring Company, in a fight to decide the future of Sin City’s urban transportation.

In May, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority approved a $48.7 million contract for The Boring Company (TBC) to design and build a short underground transportation system at the city’s convention center, using Tesla electric vehicles driving through narrow tunnels.

The ambitious contract calls for the system, called LVCC Loop, to be operational in time for the city’s largest trade show, CES, in January 2021. Over the next 18 months, TBC is to build a pedestrian tunnel, two 0, 8-kilometer vehicle tunnels and three subway stations, plus modifying and testing seven-seat Tesla cars to carry up to 16 people.

TBC has already submitted detailed construction plans to the city for review, which TechCrunch has obtained, and recently raised $120 million in funding. The company hopes to begin construction later this summer.

But TBC’s tight deadlines – and the payments it receives for meeting them – could be jeopardized by the monorail’s fears that the new tunnels could undermine its own system. To connect two parts of the Convention Center, the Loop will have to bury itself directly under the elevated tracks of the Monorail.

Fear of monorail damage

“The proposed underground people mover intersects with our existing system route, and it appears that the presented tunnel alignment interferes with our existing columns for the Las Vegas monorail system and creates significant vertical and lateral load concerns. “wrote Monorail CEO Curtis Myles. letter to Clark County planning officials in June.

Chris Kaempfer, a lawyer representing the monorail, clarified the company’s position at a meeting of the City of Winchester Advisory Council on the same day.

“When you have columns that would be so close, you’re not just concerned about contact with the columns, you’re also concerned about vibration,” Kaempfer said. “The file must be absolutely clear, if there is the slightest damage to the columns, it will close the monorail.”

Kaempfer lobbied the advisory board to increase oversight of the TBC project and demand that the company work with monorail and city officials during construction to prevent damage to columns in the rail system.

“It’s extremely important for the monorail that everyone recognizes that this potential exists and needs to be addressed appropriately,” Kaempfer said.

TBC pushed back on any new restrictions, telling the council it had already committed to protecting existing infrastructure along the loop route.

“[Tunneling] noise and vibrations are imperceptible on the surface. We design our process to be deep enough underground for a person walking [at ground level] creates more vibration than our underground tunnel boring machine,” said Jane Labanowski, TBC’s government relations manager.

At the final bell, Winchester City Council awarded this ride to the monorail, making approval of the loop design conditional on regular coordination between TBC, the monorail and the city’s public works department. “That way we all have a reference point to go back to, just in case someone forgets or doesn’t check with other people,” the president said. “All of a sudden someone becomes a bad actor who doesn’t want to be.”

TBC did not respond to requests for comment for this story.

Although Elon Musk’s Monorail and Loop are not yet in direct competition, TBC’s ultimate ambition is to expand the LVCC Loop from a campus mover to a Vegas-wide transit system serving the airport, the Strip and beyond.

The monorail itself began as a short one-mile system shuttling between the MGM Grand and Bally’s Hotel, using monorails purchased from Disney World in Florida. It now stretches nearly four miles and carries up to 67,000 passengers per day during its busiest periods.

The Las Vegas Monorail passes through the Las Vegas Convention Center, seen on January 4, 2017 in Las Vegas.

TBC has promised that the Loop will be able to accommodate up to 4,400 passengers per hour, or more than 100,000 per day, once it is operational. Its website states that the total travel time between the furthest LVCC stations will be around one minute. This means that the Loop will need at least six 16-person vehicles operating simultaneously to achieve its goal. However, a one-minute ride may not be realistic at peak times. Subway trains in New York and Boston routinely stop for more than 30 seconds at popular stations.

Human drivers will drive Loop Teslas

At the Winchester meeting, Labanowski also revealed further details about the Loop’s vehicles and operations. Although TBC’s website says the system would use self-driving vehicles, presumably using Tesla’s autopilot technology, Labanowski said the LVCC Loop vehicles would also have human drivers “for added safety.”

Loop plans submitted by TBC to Las Vegas show a modest glass structure at surface level, with elevators, escalators and stairs leading to a mezzanine with doors and then back to three platforms again. With no room at platform level for vehicles to turn around, it looks like TBC’s people movers will work in both forward and reverse.

And while TBC hopes its Loop system will eventually cover the city, a TBC contractor at the Winchester meeting said public access may be limited for the time being. “We will monitor its opening to the public based on our commitment to our show customers every day,” said Terry Miller of Cordell Corporation, which was awarded a $1 million contract to oversee the project. “During CES, it will be a little more difficult to get people in and out than it would be for a [smaller] tradeshow. »

The next challenge for TBC is to obtain all the necessary permits to dig a shaft in order to deploy its tunnel boring machine underground. Its schedule calls for construction to begin in September.

Comments are closed.