Watching a glimpse of the Bell Nexus flying-taxi concept remains a prominent CES memory, but not for reasons you might expect.
With its six tilting fans, the vertical-takeoff-and-landing craft was an undeniable showstopper at the 2019 CES. Whether air taxis are a figment of science fiction or a viable mode of travel, for a moment, was beside the point. The Nexus was an ambitious, full-size sculpture representing tomorrow's transportation.
Moments later, I stood in a nearly two-hour line waiting to board the Las Vegas Monorail for a ride back toward the Strip.
Future transportation has always been the great calling card within the walls of the Las Vegas Convention Center. Present transportation has always been the great challenge outside those walls during CES. The juxtaposition was never more apparent than in those moments.
Even though there's no in-person CES this year, I've reflected a lot on that particular experience. Along with the hum of the casinos, anyone who has attended CES knows that navigating transportation systems strained beyond capacity has always been an essential part of the show.
Standing in line for the monorail — rescued, incidentally, from bankruptcy in recent weeks — it should have been a no-brainer and would have been faster to walk the approximate two miles to The Linq. While not impossible, that would involve utilizing an infrastructure seemingly designed to deter pedestrians.
That was a point driven across — no pun intended — during another visit to the southern end of Las Vegas.
Crossing Tropicana Avenue to get to the MGM should have been a simple walk across the street. But Jersey barriers separating the eastbound and westbound lanes made that impossible.
Instead, I took the only available route: riding an escalator up to an elevated pedestrian walkway, which took me westbound, northbound through the New York, New York casino and finally back east into the MGM. Up ... three blocks and a casino ... then down. Instead of a straight-line walk across the street.
Such a roundabout route seemed like the ultimate pedestrian irritation.