Las Vegas Sun

September 16, 2014

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An adventure in Vegas transportation, starring the Monorail

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It’s a landmark day, and not just because during my walk-through at CES I managed to fight through what some might call an “allergic reaction” to highly advanced technical gadgets. Sure, when someone pushes an iPhone in my direction, my glands swell, I hyperventilate and black out for about 12 seconds, and when I come to I’m missing a couple of toenails. But allergic? It is to laugh.

No, it’s a landmark day because I finally rode the Las Vegas Monorail as an actual passenger. I’ve been on the silver snake once before, for a story, and now that I remember it I wasn’t even the one writing the story. I was baggage, really. But this time, I bought two tickets and used the Monorail for transportation, on purpose, with no other purpose but to get to the CES expo at the Las Vegas Convention Center. I can report that the Monorail does serve a purpose for locals, but before specifying how, here was my original plan: To drive to the Las Vegas Hilton (home of Barry Manilow – The Hits) and ride the rail to the LVCC. Sort of back in, in other words, by parking in the Hilton Super Book parking lot, of which I am all too familiar.

But when I tried to enter that lot, I found it was barricaded and some tough dude that looked like Huggy Bear from Starsky & Hutch was manning the barricade. So I swung around to the north parking garage and was met with a site more horrific than the shooting of Rico in “Copacabana”: A sign reading: “Parking: $30.” Wha-a-a? What in the name of Ira David Sternberg is going on here? I don’t remember there ever being a charge for parking at the LV Hilton, but maybe that’s not so uncommon. I’m sure someone, probably Ira, will set me straight on that.

In any case, I’m not paying $30 to park at the Hilton, (home of Menapause The Musical so I wound around to the Sahara, across the street from the Hilton. Guess what? Free parking! So I parked in that garage, on the sixth floor, took the walkway across Paradise and boarded the Monorail from its northern-most station. This system worked well enough – for two $5 tickets, I was delivered to and from the Convention Center in a reasonable amount of time, about 15 minutes from when I entered the station to when I was dropped off. The problem with the Monorail is that it’s pretty expensive for what you get: $10 can be a lot of cabbage to be sent halfway up the east side of the Strip, but I can suggest ways it can be used fairly regularly by locals: Let’s say you want to hit the Oingo Boingo reunion concert tour stop at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Parking at the MGM Grand … what’s the word I’m looking for here? Oh. Sucks. It sucks.

So, board the Monorail at either the Sahara or Hilton (when they’re not charging $30 to park there, which is about every other day, ever, except for this week) and ride up and back from the MGM Grand. This is a good method if your destination is New York-New York, the Tropicana or (God help us) Hooters. Just use the MGM station as a dumping off point and do a little hoofing. Same is true for all the stops on the east side of the Strip, particularly Paris Las Vegas and Imperial Palace, which have particularly tricky parking garages. As they say at CES (and also the Adult Entertainment Expo), all aboard …

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