Las Vegas, Nevada/Resort Corridor Fixed Guideway MOS

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Las Vegas Resort Corridor Fixed Guideway MOS

Las Vegas, Nevada

(November 2000)

Description

The Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) of Clark County, Nevada, is the lead local agency proposing the implementation of a fixed guideway transit system in the Las Vegas Resort Corridor. The proposed guideway investment is designed to improve mobility within the 18.4 mile corridor, which includes the regionís central business district, several gaming resorts along ďThe StripĒ, the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, McCarran International Airport, and three regional shopping centers. The RTC is studying several alignments along the corridor, including a 4.7 mile minimum operable segment (MOS) extending south from Cashman Field, through downtown Las Vegas, and terminating at the intersection of Convention Center Drive and Las Vegas Boulevard. The MOS is a double track, elevated, automated fixed guideway with 11 stations, including a major intermodal facility at the northern terminus with a 2,000 vehicle park and ride lot and a 30-bay bus terminal. The MOS is estimated to cost $597 million (escalated dollars) and carry over 63,000 weekday boardings in 2020. The MOS is being evaluated in this profile.

RTC is also working with the MGM-Hilton Limited Liability Corporation to develop a 3.6 mile system extension to the RTC system which would extend as far south as Tropicana Avenue. The proposal is to provide a seamless connection between the proposed RTC-built guideway and a 3.6 mile facility proposed to be constructed by the MGM-Hilton Limited Liability Corporation. Average weekday boardings on the entire proposed 8.3 mile system is estimated to be 173,000 in 2020.

Las Vegas Resort Corridor Summary Description

Proposed Project Automated Fixed Guideway Transit (MOS)
4.7 miles, 11 stations
Total Capital Cost ($YOE) $597.00 million
Section 5309 Share ($YOE) $210.00 million
Annual Operating Cost ($Year) $13.50 million
Ridership Forecast (2020) 63,700 average weekday boardings
36,000 daily new riders
FY 2002 Financial Rating: Medium
FY 2002 Project Justification Rating: Medium-High
FY 2002 Overall Project Rating: Recommended

The overall project rating of Recommended is based on the projectís strong cost effectiveness, and the adequacy of the projectís capital and operating financing plan at this stage of development. The overall project rating applies to this Annual New Starts Report and reflects conditions as of November 2000. 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 initiated a Major Investment Study (MIS) for the central employment area of the Las Vegas Valley in July 1994. In January 1997, the RTC and the City of Las Vegas formally adopted the Resort Corridor Transportation Master Plan, which included a 15.6 mile fixed guideway transit system.

FTA approved entrance to preliminary engineering on the 4.7 MOS in July 1998. A Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the entire corridor is ongoing and expected to be completed in spring of 2001, with the selection of an LPA from the DEIS anticipated in mid 2001. RTC anticipates a Record of Decision, following completion of a Final EIS for the project, in the fall of 2001.

TEA-21 Section 3030(a)(35) authorizes the Las Vegas Corridor for final design and construction. Through FY 2001, Congress has appropriated $13.85 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 4.7 mile MOS. N/A indicates that data are not available for a specific measure.

FTA has evaluated this project as being in preliminary engineering. The project will be re-evaluated when it is ready to advance to final design, and for next yearís Annual Report on New Starts.

Justification

The Medium-High project justification rating reflects the projectís strong cost effectiveness and acknowledges the existing dense activity centers along the proposed alignment.

Mobility Improvements

Rating: Medium

RTC estimates that the MOS will serve 65,000 average weekday boardings, including 36,000 daily new riders, in 2020. 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) 29.90 million hours 15.50 million hours

Based on 1990 census data, there are an estimated 4,114 low-income households within a ½ mile radius of the proposed 11 stations of the MOS.

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 changes in emissions.

Criteria Pollutant New Start vs. No-Build New Start vs. TSM
Carbon Monoxide (CO) decrease of 2731 annual tons decrease of 179 annual tons
Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) decrease of 127 annual tons increase of 32 annual tons
Hydrocarbons (HC) decrease of 137 annual tons increase of 53 annual tons
Particulate Matter (PM10) increase of 18 annual tons increase of 110 annual tons
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) decrease of 27,716 annual tons decrease of 35,332 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 284,354 million annual BTU decrease of 424,237 million annual BTU

Operating Efficiencies

Rating: High

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 the No-Build.

Operating Efficiencies No-Build TSM New Start
System Operating Cost per Passenger Mile (2020) $0.37 $0.39 $0.31

Values reflect 2020 ridership forecast and 1999 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 $2.50 $0.40

Values reflect 2020 ridership forecast and 1999 dollars.

Transit-Supportive Existing Land Use and Future Patterns

Rating: Medium

The Medium rating reflects the lack of formal transit supportive land use and parking policies in the Las Vegas region, but acknowledges that market conditions have created a highly dense, job-rich environment in the corridor.

Existing Conditions: The 18.4 mile Resort Corridor functions as the regionís primary employment center, accommodating nearly 50% (206,000) of regional jobs. More specifically, there are an estimated 57,000 jobs within ½ mile of proposed MOS station areas (1995 data); 90,000 jobs along the MOS are forecasted in 2020. Existing zoning supports high-intensity hotel, resort, retail, and some residential uses. Areas adjacent to the major resort activities are pedestrian and transit-friendly, but the pedestrian environment declines outside of the these areas. Parking throughout the area is allowed without limitation.

Future Plans and Policies: Current public policies to shape development are generally weak throughout the region, but market forces are expected to contribute to the continued increase of major trip generators in the Resort Corridor and the MOS. Over 90,000 jobs are forecast within the MOS corridor by 2020, an increase of 59%. The amount of square foot development within the MOS is also expected to increase over 60% (to 39.5 million) by 2020. However, similarly measured growth throughout the entire metropolitan area is forecast to increase by over 90% over the same period, with a 142% increase in employment regionwide.

In September 1999, the RTC and the City of Las Vegas entered into an interlocal agreement to conduct station area land use planning activities along the corridor. In addition, the city has taken significant steps to implement its downtown redevelopment plan, including undertaking streetscape and design improvements.

Other Factors

Potential Private Sector Involvement: RTC is also examining in its DEIS of the Resort Corridor an 8.3 mile joint public/private seamless fixed guideway system. The RTC and the MGM-Hilton Limited Liability Corporation have entered into a memorandum of understanding to pursue the integration of system operations, and private sector contributions for the 4.7 mile RTC system are estimated to total $85 million.

Local Financial Commitment

Proposed Non-Section 5309 Share of Total Project Costs: 65%

The projectís financial plan includes $210 million of Section 5309 New Starts funding (35 percent of total project costs), $105 million of FHWA flexible funding (17 percent), $190 million in RTC Bonds (32 percent), and $85 million (14 percent) in private sector contributions.

Stability and Reliability of Capital Financing Plan

Rating: Medium

The Medium capital rating reflects the RTCís stable local dedicated revenues for capital expansion and the level of committed funding for the proposed project

Agency Capital Financial Condition: Based on current financial statements and the historical performance of RTCís locally dedicated sales tax, the capital health of the agency is healthy.

Capital Cost Estimates and Contingencies: Cost estimates assume a conservative 5 percent rate of cost inflation and reasonable contingencies. The projectís cash flow demonstrates an annual average surplus equal to 2.2 % of systemwide operating and capital revenues, which would be available to absorb unexpected cost overruns or unanticipated funding shortfalls.

Existing and Committed Funding: The RTC is proposing the use of $105 million in Federal flexible funds to support project capital costs. As the regionís MPO, local control of these funds lies with the RTC. The RTC is further proposing that $190 million of project costs are to be financed by revenue bonds secured by anticipated farebox revenue surpluses generated by the Resort Corridor project. If such surpluses do not materialize, RTCís local dedicated ¼ cent sales tax is sufficient to cover bond payments, although the RTCís bus expansion plans would be put at risk (existing bus operations would not be negatively impacted).

New and Proposed Sources: No new funding sources are proposed for the MOS. Private resources are proposed for $85 million of the project costs in as part of the implementation of the proposed 8.3 mile RTC/ MGM-Hilton Limited Liability Corporation seamless system alternative described earlier.

Stability and Reliability of Operating Finance Plan

Rating: Medium

The Medium rating reflects the RTCís strong operating revenues.

Agency Operating Condition: In recent years, RTCís transit system has experienced declining operating surpluses but significant increases in ridership and productivity (in terms of riders per vehicle mile). The overall operating condition of the agency is considered good.

Operating Cost Estimates and Contingencies: Annual operating costs are estimated at $13.5 million in 2006, escalating to $26.7 million by 2020 (a reasonable 5% rate of growth). These estimates are considered reasonable for an Automated Guideway Transit system operating under a broad range of service level assumptions.

Existed and Committed Funding: RTC is projecting that project operating costs would be more than fully funded from farebox receipts. Current transit ridership in the corridor is high and rail ridership forecasts support RTC revenue estimates. RTCís dedicated sales tax revenue represents an additional available operating funding source.

New and Proposed Sources: No new sources are proposed to fund the proposed projectís operation.

Locally Proposed Financing Plan

(Reported in $YOE)

Proposed Source of Funds Total Funding
($million)
Appropriations to Date
Federal:
Section 5309 New Starts $210.00 $13.85 million appropriated through FY 2001
CMAQ $32.50 N/A
STP State $40.00 N/A
STP Urban $32.50 N/A
Local:
RTC Sales Tax Bond $190.00 N/A
Private Sector Contribution $85.00 N/A
Total: $597.00

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

Map of 4.7 mile minimum operable segment (MOS) extending south from Cashman Field,through downtown Las Vegas, and terminating at the intersection of Convention Center Drive and Las Vegas Boulevard.