Sunday, December 12, 2004

Rodeo in town again, more monorail status

The rodeo's back in town - cowboys in the streets and the convention center parking lot full of horse trailers. Haven't seen anything from the hard Rock - last year they got in trouble for their 'Buck all night' billboard and advertising campaign.

My wife's been invited to a holiday get together at Gilley's Vegas next weekend. But by then the real cowboys should be all gone. She has been volunteering time at Habitat for Humanity, building houses, and they are having a little party. Gilley's is part of the chain that offers 'real Texas' atmosphere, sawdust on the floor and a mechanical bull in the center of the room. I think it's the place that John Travolta supposedly went to back in his movie on cowboys, after Saturday Night Fever dancing died away he caused bull riding to come into style with that movie. Just checked the Internet Movie Database - John Travolta was at the Houston Gilley's in Urban Cowboy, not the Gilley's Dallas. Looks like there isn't a Houston Gilley's any more - just Dallas (and Vegas). On TV shows the only ones that ride that thing are well endowed young women wearing small halter tops that seem to pop off while bouncing. Maybe I should look forward to going.

The monorail is still not running.

A news article this morning discussed how the downtown area really wants the proposed extension from the strip up to downtown, but it can't be built without federal money. Estimated cost of three miles of monorail line, and associated stations, is 485 million $$ (US). Lots of bucks for a strip of concrete in the sky. But that's two strips side by side, and the trains to go on it, land acquisition, station sites, etc. The city is looking for $442 million in funds from elsewhere, and $43 million raised from local taxes. Problem with federal grants is that in order to get bucks for an expansion they want to see that the existing stuff is working OK, and ridership averages 50,000 per day. But our monorail has been down since September. Heavy ridership numbers expected for New Years Eve and the Consumer Electronics show in January.

But, the speaker today discussed how bad the monorail is doing, and how it might not be a good idea to open early just to catch the New Years Eve crowd. Open early? Come on, a wheel fell off, along with some other stuff back in the summer. If they can't fix the trains in three months so that the don't fall apart - and they are new trains, only ran for a few months after a year of testing - somebody else should be running the place. Right now the monorail is owned by a private company, funded partially by the strip casinos that wanted easy transportation, and denigrated by the cab drivers that lost ridership. Bus service is so bad there is no competition there.

I Don't know why anyone would use the monorail now - it just runs for three miles down behind the hotels east of the strip. I guess you would get on if you didn't want to walk and look at the lights, and had a specific casino you wanted to jump to. Or people staying at the hotels and just going to the convention center. The big ridership I think would come when they do the airport connection. Then those millions of people that fly in and out would be able to get to their hotels directly without hassling with the taxi stuff. Paris and New York and London and other big cities have trains that go from the airport to downtown. Our monorail would go from the airport directly to the big casino stations leading right down into the hotels directly. And if you could also go downtown, to see the fancy stuff there, then it would help that area greatly.

All it takes is bucks. And competent people that can fix problems and keep it running. But, I'm not an employee of the transportation company and don't really know what's going on. We just see news stories of 60 pound tires landing in parking lots.

Sitting at my computer listening to NRJ Radio - the French pop radio I like. I also listen to French Lazy Radio - had it on, but they have a lot of gaps in the music, sounds like they don't have enough of a budget to handle the site hits for too many listeners. Thought I would look at the site, and I came across a picture of their studios -

Looks like a setup in somebody's garage or spare room.
Contrast this to NRJ (from their almost live webcam)

Looks more like a real radio station. The number of commercials sound like it too.

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