Riding the Rails in Vegas

The Vegas Monorail becomes a necessity

By: Laurie Baratti

With Las Vegas being the single most traveled-to destination city in the West, getting around the Strip these days can be a challenge. With nearly 30 million visitors per year squeezing through this remarkably condensed area for business, pleasure or frequently both, it is a wonder the city continues to move at such a pace. The key is efficiency and ease of transport in order to pack as much Vegas into a weekend, or even just a day, as possible. Since 2004, the Las Vegas Monorail system has been helping visitors and locals alike keep up with the rapid pace of the city that never sleeps.

The Las Vegas Monorail was the first, and remains the only, privately owned public transit system in the nation, funded solely through fare box collections and advertising revenue. The system continues to break new ground, as nearly 32,000 passengers ride the system daily to restaurants, shows, attractions and conventions within the Strip resort corridor.

With the Strip undergoing constant refurbishment, expansion and change, a fast and comfortable means of transportation is becoming essential for any and every Vegas visitor. Many of the hotels and resorts in Las Vegas are like cities unto themselves, and getting from one to the next is becoming an ever more impossible task on foot. Not to mention, summer temperatures can make walking the crowded streets a grueling experience, as well as hazardous for people with certain disabilities and health conditions. Driving or taking a taxi can be equally stressful and time-consuming, as Vegas traffic jams have become legendary.

The alternative is an air-conditioned, clean and comfortable ride of 15 minutes or less, which picks guests up and drops them at any of seven locations, conveniently situated within close proximity to all the major hotels on the Strip. All that passengers will have to endure is a brief wait of approximately 5 to 12 minutes for the next available train going their way, and that in secure, covered stations with plenty of seating.

The system also features the first fully automated control network for driverless operation and incorporates fail-safe protection throughout its software and equipment, making this monorail one of the most advanced urban transportation systems in the world.

The Las Vegas Monorail currently runs a four-mile route between the MGM Grand and Sahara hotels at opposite ends of the Strip on an elevated guideway that provides access to nearly every major hotel and attraction on the Strip. While the monorail currently runs only above the east side of the Strip, pedestrian-only walkways over the street make hotels on the west side a safe and easy stroll from the stations.

Las Vegas doesn’t do anything small, and the monorail trains are no exception. Not only do they act as a public transportation system, but as a unique and very visible advertising opportunity for such investors as Monster Energy Drink, Vegas.com, Sprint, Bank West of Nevada and Star Trek: The Experience at the Las Vegas Hilton.

A whole new kind of marketing-gone-entertainment has emerged through the monorail’s “immersive riding environments,” which tie bold exterior graphics in with interior audio and video advertiser themes and messages. Each train is emblematic, completely recognizable, and an attraction all its own.

The latest addition to the line is the NBA All-Star 2007 monorail train, unveiled in celebration of the upcoming 56th NBA All-Star game, to be held in Las Vegas this February and televised to fans worldwide. The exterior of the four-car train features an eye-popping design, emblazoned with the image of a nine-foot basketball amid yellow starbursts and the signature NBA All-Star logo. Inside, riders are immersed in the world of the game floors are painted to mimic the hardwood and lines of center court, and thanks to a 3-D image of a basketball hoop above, passengers are invited to picture themselves at the free-throw line about to make the game-winning shot.

Tickets for the Las Vegas Monorail can be purchased in advance online, at automated touch-screen vending machines or customer service booths, located at every monorail station or within various resort properties. Ticket prices range from $5 for a single ride to $40 for an unlimited three-day pass. If spending the day or weekend, unlimited day or three-day passes are a cost-effective way for visitors to skip around to as many Vegas sites as their hearts desire.