New Push to Extend Monorail from Airport to Downtown - 8 News NOW

New Push to Extend Monorail from Airport to Downtown

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LAS VEGAS -- A new push is getting going to extend the Las Vegas Monorail farther than just up and down behind Strip hotels.

Right now, it stretches four miles, connecting riders to the back of some of the most well-known hotels in the world.

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman is once again throwing her support behind the original idea to have the monorail go to McCarran International Airport. The Las Vegas Monorail carries millions of passengers each year, and Goodman knows its start could have been better.

"The monorail has been very controversial since it was built. How it was funded, how it was started, and why it didn't go to the airport." Goodman said.

Goodman threw the city's support behind an airport connection at Tuesday's Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority board meeting.

"I am a big proponent because we can do it now in this lifetime in the next four or five years," Goodman said.

Goodman would like to see the monorail extended even more, she says hopefully using private funding.

"We need it to go from the airport. We need to bring it downtown," the mayor said.

The Las Vegas Monorail company runs the only privately-funded public transportation system in the U.S but an expansion won't happen overnight.

"It has to be community-based. It has to be supported by the community and wanted by the community," vice president and chief marketing officer for the monorail Ingrid Reisman said.

Tourists generally support the idea.

"It is a lot easier than trying to wait for a shuttle or taxi," Ian Baum, who is visiting from New Hampshire, said.

"It'd be handy," Alistair McGechen, visiting from Canada, said.

Transportation strategist Tom Skancke says southern Nevada also needs to address transportation infrastructure needs not only around the Strip, but around the valley.

Reducing congestion and improving mobility, he says, is a must.

"We got to think bigger. We got to find the necessary funding, and we need to do more. at the end of the day, our community could start losing out," Skancke said.

It all could start with growing the monorail, but for this project to take off, southern Nevada must be on board.

The project would take about 40 months to complete. Enticing new private investors to put money into an airport extension will be the hard part. At least 80 percent of the investors on the original $650 million monorail bond suffered a big loss.

The major rating services stopped issuing ratings for the monorail after it hit junk bond status during the 2010 bankruptcy. In October, Fitch called it a risky investment.

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