Early data shows Elon Musk’s Las Vegas Loop is not yet up to speed

Early data shows Elon Musk’s Las Vegas Loop is not yet up to speed

When Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority CEO Steve Hill unveiled The Boring Company’s plan for a subterranean shuttle that would transport visitors to various parts of the city’s vast Convention Center campus, he predicted that travel between the farthest stations would take just under two minutes. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Hill stated in June 2019 “if the system doesn’t function, we will receive all of our money back.” According to an email between a Boring Company (TBC) official and the LVCVA from April, the two-minute guarantee was repeated to the media. The plain site got the email as part of a 5051-page package of documents obtained under public records laws.

So far, it appears that the two-minute goal remains unattainable. According to detailed trip logs obtained through the same records request, the LVCC Loop’s Tesla taxis took an average of roughly four minutes to traverse the system in its first six weeks of operation.

The data, which includes over 30,000 free rides and 75,000 passengers, shows that no day had a journey time of less than three minutes, while one day had a trip time of five minutes. (TechCrunch omitted Days where the system carried fewer than a thousand passengers.) 

Similar journey durations may see in videos recorded during a huge car conference last week (which were too recent to be included in this batch of public records).

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Early data shows Elon Musk’s Las Vegas Loop is not yet up to speed

Of course, a few minutes’ delays will not make much of a difference to the typical convention goer, but it might result in significant financial penalties if TBC fails ridership objectives for large events like CES. TBC’s claims for a far bigger public Loop network in Las Vegas, which just approved, also called into question by the difference. Finally, the performance of the LVCC Loop might indicate if Musk’s underground taxis are a viable mode of urban transit or more of a Tesla-boosting amusement ride.

The bigger Vegas Loop system will include 51 stations and over 29 miles of tunnels, connecting many of the city’s major attractions. TBC claims that a drive from the city’s NFL stadium to the Convention Center would take four minutes on its project website for the Vegas Loop, despite the distance being more than four times longer than the LVCC Loop today. The real-world traffic data also raises questions about whether the LVCC Loop can fulfill its capacity objective of conveying 4,400 conference participants per hour in its current state.

During a demonstration event in May, TBC accomplished that figure by cramming three passengers (without baggage) into each of the 62 Tesla Model 3, X, and Y vehicles in the system. In actuality, each Loop vehicle carried an average of only two passengers during the time it opened to conventioneers in early June and mid-July. TBC inked a deal in 2019 that stipulate a $300,000 penalty for any big event when TBC is unable to transport 4,000 persons per hour. A penalty of this magnitude might jeopardize the Loop’s survival, as it only made $230,500 in transportation services during its first month of operation in June. (TBC also receives a $167,000 monthly management charge, regardless of the number of cars it operates.)

By mid-July, the LVCC had transported 1,355 passengers per hour at its peak. One explanation for this is that the LVCC does not usually hold its major conferences during the scorching summer months in Nevada, and there were just not enough people to warrant transportation. 

“I scaled back the [number of] vehicles currently since we are witnessing a really low flow of people,” a Loop operations engineer wrote to the LVCVA during a beauty convention in June. Loop management would close the system early on certain evenings if no passengers had entered the system for 15 minutes. There are three tiers of service at The Loop. When there are no active conventions on the LVCC campus, Level 2 is available, with only five vehicles and no station workers. With 23 cars, Level 3 can accommodate up to 20,000 guests. Level 4 is for the biggest events, with 30 to 62 Teslas.