Friday, April 22, 2016

CITY BUILDING WITH MODERN TRANSIT

Las Vegas is a city built on gambling. That includes the developers, especially the casino folks who have created a world-famous  array of mega-resorts up and down the Strip. Several have APM shuttles built in the 1990s.

As the 21st century opened, MGM Mirage gambled when it unveiled a $7 billion project in 2005 for a large site between the old downtown (vintage casinos) and the newer, bolder and bigger Strip.  With name architects and huge ambitions, the project included a $11 million cable-powered APM by Austria’s Doppelmayr and Siemens. This huge real estate gamble was named CityCenter.  Midtown may be a more appropriate label.

Light and open, the APM station has a playful design.

This Vegas city-building gamble dove right into the 2008/9 mini-depression that rocked the world, especially speculative con-struction such as abounds in Arizona, Florida and Las Vegas. The good news is that the project continued and is alive today. The ARIA Express Tram opened in 2009.


Urban Perspectives


Early APMs within resort properties and at the airport were mostly back-and-forth shuttles.  Circus-Circus had two -- one has been dismantled and the other mothballed.  Others still operate at Treasure Island, Excalibur and the Mirage. The ugly elevated, automated monorail stands apart a long way back from the Strip, largely irrelevant except to conventioneers, waiting in vain for extension to the airport.

Ezra Larsen managed the ARIA Tram
Today, Las Vegas’s visitor-based economy is almost back up to where it was in 2007. The 3-station CityCenter APM hums 24/7 carrying about 9000 passengers a day.  Current owner Aria is reluctant to give out sales and occupancy data. In early April, the shops were bright. Visitors wondered about impressed. It looks like this APM gamble is paying off.

In the 1990s Raytheon tried to advance podcar concepts in Las Vegas but got nowhere.  Who will light the PRT torch in 2016?


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