Las Vegas, Nevada/Las Vegas Resort Corridor Fixed Guideway

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Las Vegas Resort Corridor Fixed Guideway

Las Vegas, Nevada

(November 1998)

Description

The Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) of Clark County (Las Vegas), Nevada, is the designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) and regional governmental entity responsible for providing public mass transportation within Clark County. In the Fall 1997, RTC selected a locally preferred alternative (LPA) for the Las Vegas Resort Corridor which includes a combination of fixed guideway transit, significant expansion of the bus fleet, implementation of TSM/TDM strategies, and some roadway improvements. The core system includes a dual direction elevated fixed guideway rail system along Las Vegas Boulevard (referred to as The Strip) with a link to downtown Las Vegas, an interim maintenance and control facility, and the acquisition of 30 vehicles. The Resort Corridor Project will be completed in two phases, with a Phase I minimum operable segment (MOS), located in the northernmost portion of the system.

The MOS consists of 5.2 miles of double track, all-elevated, automated guideway with 10 stations. A major facility at the northern terminus will include a guideway station, a 28- to 30-bay bus terminal, a 2,000 vehicle park and ride lot, and a maintenance and operating facility. The MOS is estimated to cost $500.3 million (escalated dollars), and serve 93,000 daily riders in the year 2020.

The full build-out of the complete project includes up to 18.4 miles of double track, all elevated, automated guideway with 27 stations extending to McCarran International Airport, and is estimated to cost $2.18 billion (escalated dollars).

Las Vegas Resort Corridor Summary Description

Proposed Project Automated Fixed Guideway Transit (MOS)
5.2 miles, 10 stations
Total Capital Cost ($YOE) $500.30 million
Section 5309 Share ($YOE) $225.10 million
Annual Operating Cost ($YOE) $10.50 million
Ridership Forecast (2020) 93,000 daily boardings
59,700 daily new riders
FY 2000 Financial Rating: Low-Medium
FY 2000 Project Justification Rating: Medium-High
FY 2000 Overall Project Rating: Not Recommended

The overall project rating applies to this Annual New Starts Report and reflects conditions as of November 1998. Project evaluation is an ongoing process. As new starts projects proceed through development, the estimates of costs, benefits, and impacts are refined. The FTA ratings and recommendations will be updated annually to reflect new information, changing conditions, and refined financing plans.

Status

RTC completed a Major Investment Study (MIS) for the central employment area of the Las Vegas Valley commonly known as the Resort Corridor. In October 1997, the RTC and the City of Las Vegas formally adopted the locally preferred alternative of the Resort Corridor MIS. In January 1998, the RTC adopted the transit guideway LPA into a conforming, financially constrained regional transportation plan and transportation improvement program.

FTA approved entrance to begin preliminary engineering and development of the draft Environmental Impact Statement on the MOS in July 1998. The RTC estimates a Record of Decision by January 2000.

TEA-21 Section 3030(a)(35) authorizes the Las Vegas Corridor for final design and construction. Through FY 1999, Congress has appropriated $8.97 million in Section 5309 New Start funds for this project.

Evaluation

The following criteria have been estimated in conformance with FTA's Technical Guidance on Section 5309 New Starts Criteria. Information and criteria are presented for the Phase 1 MOS. N/A indicates that data are not available for a specific measure.

Justification

Mobility Improvements

Rating: Medium-High

RTC estimates that the MOS will result in the following annual travel time savings.

Mobility Improvements New Start vs. No-Build New Start vs. TSM
Annual Travel Time Savings (Hours) 73.20 million hours 27.60 million hours

Based on 1990 census data, there are an estimated 3,785 low-income households within a ½ mile radius of the proposed 10 stations of the MOS, 18.5 percent of total households within ½ mile of proposed stations.

Environmental Benefits

Rating: High

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Area is an attainment area for ozone and nitrogen oxides; however, it is designated as a "serious" non-attainment area for both carbon monoxide (CO) and particulate matter. RTC estimates that in 2020, the MOS would result in the following annual emissions reductions.

Criteria Pollutant New Start vs. No-Build New Start vs. TSM
Carbon Monoxide (CO) decrease of 2853 annual tons decrease of 754 annual tons
Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) decrease of 380 annual tons decrease of 198 annual tons
Hydrocarbons (HC) decrease of 381 annual tons decrease of 236 annual tons
Particulate Matter (PM10) decrease of 265 annual tons decrease of 194 annual tons
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) decrease of 38,377 annual tons decrease of 88,065 annual tons

RTC estimates that in 2020 the MOS would result in the following savings in regional energy consumption (measured in British Thermal Units - BTU).

Annual Energy Savings New Start vs. No-Build New Start vs. TSM
BTU (millions) decrease of 489,934 million annual BTU decrease of 1,096,406 million annual BTU

Operating Efficiencies

Rating: Medium

The RTC estimates a decrease in the systemwide operating cost per passenger mile in the year 2020 for the MOS compared to the TSM and an increase compared to the No-Build.

Operating Efficiencies No-Build TSM New Start
System Operating Cost per Passenger Mile (YOE) $0.22 $0.36 $0.32

Values reflect 2020 ridership forecast and 1997 dollars.

Cost Effectiveness

Rating: High

RTC estimates the following cost effectiveness indices.

Cost Effectiveness New Start vs. No-Build New Start vs. TSM
Incremental Cost per Incremental Passenger $4.81 $2.54

Values reflect 2020 ridership forecast and 1997 dollars.

Transit-Supportive Existing Land Use and Future Patterns

Rating: Medium

The Medium Land Use rating reflects the lack of transit-supportive land use and parking policies in Las Vegas, although the resort area itself includes some existing transit-oriented development. Population and employment in the Las Vegas Valley increased by 120 percent between 1980 and 1995, and is projected to nearly double again by the year 2020. The 18.4 mile Resort Corridor currently contains 50 percent of the region's employment. High trip generation is produced by the large concentration of resort activities, employment, commercial, and retail uses along the corridor. The areas adjacent to the major resort activities are pedestrian- and transit-friendly. Outside of the integrated resort area, however, the land use patterns lack zoning regulations and there are no policies specifically to encourage transit-supportive/oriented development. The City of Las Vegas has taken steps to implement a downtown urban design plan and which would promote redevelopment along the corridor. The City of Las Vegas does not have a transit supportive parking policy at this time.

Other Factors

Private Sector Involvement: RTC indicates potential private sector financing of a portion of a Resort Corridor system. Several private resorts are proposing to construct and operate "transit grade" segments of a fixed guideway system. An example is an extension of the existing MGM/Bally monorail system to the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel and the Las Vegas Convention Center, where it would connect to the RTC Phase 1 project. The RTC and MGM/Bally have entered into a Technical Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in October 1998 to pursue common interests.

Local Financial Commitment

Proposed Non-Section 5309 Share of Total Project Costs: 55%

The RTC Phase 1 Resort Corridor Fixed Guideway financial plan proposes $225.1 million (45 percent) in Section 5309 New Start funds and $275 million (55 percent) in a combination of State, local and private sources.

Stability and Reliability of Capital Financing Plan

Rating: Low-Medium

The current financial capacity of the RTC, which operates a 215 bus transit system, is solid. However, the Low-Medium capital plan rating reflects that specific local funding sources for the project are not specified at this time. The RTC is evaluating a number of potential funding mechanisms, including both new and existing sources. No local funds have been committed to the project, and utilization of public resources would require legislative action, voter approval, and/or bonding of the existing sales tax source. The RTC is pursuing the potential for innovative financing with several resorts along the corridor; while an MOU has been agreed to with MGM/Bally, no financial commitments have been made. The financial plan does not indicate the use of contingency factors or provide evidence of the ability to cover cost overruns.

Stability and Reliability of Operating Finance Plan

Rating: Low-Medium

The Low-Medium operating plan rating reflects the lack of committed revenues for operating the MOS. In recent years, RTC's transit system has experienced significant increases in ridership, increases in productivity, but declining annual cash flow surpluses. The project's financial plan estimates operating and maintenance costs of $10.5 million for the 5.2 mile MOS, and estimates a 60 percent farebox recovery ratio (considered reasonable given the high ratios on the current system). RTC proposes that annual operating deficits for the Resort Corridor be funded from one of the existing local revenue sources, including the dedicated sales tax and a hotel room tax, but no commitments yet exist.

Proposed Source of Funds Total Funding
($million)
Appropriations to Date
Federal: Section 5309 New Starts $225.10 $8.97 million appropriated through FY 1999)
Local: $275.20 N/A
Total: $500.30

Note: Funding proposal reflects assumptions made by project sponsors, and are not DOT or FTA assumptions. Totals may not add due to rounding. Dollars escalated by FTA.

[Las Vegas Resort Corridor Fixed Guideway Map (PDF)]