Musk Pitches LV Tunnel Transit System

Billionaire entrepreneur and visionary Elon Musk (l.) could be building the first example of his underground tunnel transit systems in Las Vegas. He has proposed to provide a people-moving system to serve Las Vegas’s convention complex.

Eccentric billionaire Elon Musk, known for wanting to fly to Mars, has a slightly less ambitious project in mind for Las Vegas: A one-mile long tunnel transit system with self-driving electric cars to be created by his Boring Company and to serve a convention center that is due to expand by 30 percent.

Musk has proposed similar—although much larger—transit systems in other cities, notably Chicago and Los Angeles, only to encounter extensive opposition, but this time he may have gotten some traction.

His scheme for moving people around the convention center and possibly along the Las Vegas Strip, was endorsed last week by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, whose CEO, Steve Hill, told the AP “It’s really innovative. I think it will be an attraction in and of itself, frankly.”

Musk’s company says it can build the system for between $35 million to $55 million and bring it online by January 2021. It would have up to four stations, each one opening on an entrance to the convention center. Its parallel tunnels would each run in one direction. Some of the cars would be Tesla Model X and Model 3’s some vehicles would carry up to 16 passengers. None would need drivers.

The project would take place in tandem with the expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center, which hosts some of the largest conventions in the world, such as the Consumer Electronics Show. When completed, the center will be about two miles long. This long walking distance is what prompted tourist officials, who operate the center, to talk to Musk.

The authority board could vote on Musk’s company March 12 after which it would return with a full design and proposed contract in June.

Musk created the Boring Company after he became frustrated by driving in Los Angeles. He created a mile-long test tunnel last year and gave demonstration rides in December. His efforts have largely generated skepticism, opposition and ridicule. Until now.

Opposition to more test tunnels stopped his efforts in Los Angeles and a system similar to what he has proposed for Las Vegas is toppling on the edge of disapproval in Chicago. That system would transport people between O’Hare International Airport and the downtown.

Hill said he expected the city’s permit process to move things along, because Las Vegas is “committed to innovation,” he told the AP.

Las Vegas currently has 11.6 million square feet of meeting space. Under the $1.47 billion expansion it will add 3.5 million SF. According to Hill, only five U.S. cities even have 3.5 million SF. “It’s pretty remarkable what’s going on in Las Vegas right now, but it’s in respond to demand,” Hill said.

The first phase will be completed just in time for the January 2021 Consumer Electronics Show. Older space will be renovated in time to open two years later.

In 2018 Caesars Entertainment began building the $375 million Caesars Forum conference center that will have 550,000 SF including a 100,000 SF outdoor meeting and event center.

MGM Resorts International has expanded its Mandalay Bay Convention Center to more than 4 million SF and Wynn Las Vegas plans to add 400,000 SF next year.

Hill anticipates 600,000 new visitors in the city because of added convention space.

The city already hosts 22,000 conventions and trade shows. When such visitors come to the city they spend twice as much as someone coming for fun, according to Hill.