Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2010 | 6:19 p.m.
Beyond the Sun
A federal bankruptcy judge in Las Vegas today allowed the Las Vegas Monorail to go about its normal business operations until Feb. 17, when a hearing will be held to determine whether its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing should proceed or be dismissed.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Bruce Markell approved the monorail's emergency motions to continue to pay employee salaries and benefits, honor ridership tickets that have already been issued, and go about other normal operations and maintenance schedules.
Today's hearing was prompted by the nonprofit monorail's filing last week of a bankruptcy petition to reorganize its debts. The monorail says it has enough money to continue operations but not to pay off bonds that were sold to construct the four-mile train that extends from the MGM Grand to the Sahara hotel.
The monorail stated in its bankruptcy filing that it has debt that ranges from $500 million to $1 billion.
Ambac Assurance Corp. of Wisconsin, which insured $450 million of the state-issued construction bonds, says it will be on the hook for more than $1.1 billion if the monorail makes no more payments to retire the bonds. Both Ambac and Wells Fargo Bank, which is one of the banks used by the monorail, have sought to dismiss the bankruptcy case.