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LRT link to Delta bridge good for Cotai casinos
The possible inclusion of a line between the Pearl River Delta bridge border crossing and Taipa in the second phase of the Light Rapid Transit (LRT) system would benefit the Cotai casinos, analysts said. The construction works for the LRT first route began last month but authorities are already planning for the second phase, which will include a link between the Border Gate and the Barra district that would close the circuit in the Macau peninsula. Also planned are two stations in the reclaimed plot A and the island that will host the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge border crossing, both rising to the peninsula’s northeast.
But the Transportation Infrastructure Office (GIT) is also considering whether or not to introduce a new line linking the island to Taipa, in connection with a fourth crossing point between the two sides, which could be a tunnel. “We believe the proposed add-on would connect the drop-off point of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge directly to Taipa/Cotai, bypassing the numerous station stops [in the first phase line] on the Macau peninsula,” Union Gaming Research analysts wrote in an industry research report released on Monday.
Without a new line, visitors coming from the bridge would have to pass through 11 stations, stretching from the peninsula to Taipa through the Sai Van bridge before reaching the first Cotai casino. “We would view this spur line as a positive for operators with significant Cotai exposure,” according to the report quoted by Macau Business newsletter. Sands China, Galaxy Entertainment and Melco Crown Entertainment are the three operators with a foothold in the area.
The other three companies – Wynn Macau, Sociedade de Jogos de Macau (SJM) and MGM China – have each applied for plots in Cotai and last month the Lands and Public Works Bureau (DSSOPT) director Jaime Carion said two of the three land grant applications could be approved by the end of 2012.
One year ago, Union Gaming Research stressed that most casino customers have “an (ingrained) preference for rail travel, as well as a tolerance for longer journeys (relative to air travel) in exchange for saving money on transportation costs”.
“Mass market casino customers might ‘cheap out’ on transportation costs (…) but then hit the casino floors firing on all cylinders with per-hand wagers in excess of the cost of the trip,” the analysts wrote.
“Although not addressed, we would anticipate this spur line to open sometime after phase one opens in 2016,” Union Gaming Research wrote. The analysts are less optimistic that the government, which pledged to have the LRT first phase up and running by 2015.
The construction works for the initial LRT route in downtown Taipa should be ready around May 2015. The two-kilometer project, which will include five stations – Ocean Gardens, Macau Jockey Club, Macau Stadium and one between the old Taipa village and the Galaxy Macau resort –, will cost MOP 489 million. The open tender for the LRT route in the Macau peninsula will be launched during the first half of this year. The construction works will start before the end of 2012, authorities pledged.
In addition the government is also planning for a possible extension of the LRT system to Seac Pai Van, in Coloane, and to Hengqin Island, in connection with the future Guangzhou-Zhuhai Intercity Mass Rapid Transit. A study commissioned by GIT claims the LRT system will boost Macau’s economy and help society earn a further MOP 15.8 to 16.4 billion in the first 10 years of operation alone.
Authorities believe the LRT will become Macau’s main collective transportation system and reduce commuting time by 63 percent. The government also expects the use of private vehicles to drop, cutting both greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption by 20 percent.
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