It’s no secret that entrepreneurial maverick Elon Musk has big plans for the future of public transportation. Since a terrible traffic commuting experience in December 2016 prompted Elon to envision an alternative mass transit solution, he has gone on to set up The Boring Company, a firm dedicated to the creation of a high-speed underground mass transportation network that Elon claims will “revolutionise” public transport. While the company has chiefly been in the news for its unique efforts to raise money by selling hats and flamethrowers, Elon sought to throw some light on the project’s progress yesterday at a rare public appearance in a Boring Company Information Session in Los Angeles.
At the session, which Elon co-hosted with Boring Company Director Steve Davis, the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla revealed his vision of a “Loop” mass transit system that will use “pods” carrying up to 16 passengers each. The “pods” will carry the passengers at speeds of up to 150 miles per hour (over 240 kilometres per hour) for as little as $1 (about Rs 68). Elon pointed out though that the Loop would be an intra-city transportation system for LA, different from the Hyperloop concept he’s discussed before which would be used for longer-distance transportation at speeds approaching 300 miles per hour (over 480 kilometres per hour).
Elon has faced financial and regulatory hurdles in getting The Boring Company off the ground. The company raised about $11 million through the sales of hats and flamethrowers (which Elon revealed would start shipping in about two weeks), as well as $112.5 million separately according to an SEC filing last month ($100 million of this money came from Elon’s own pocket). However, the company is also facing rising costs, especially as it endeavours to match Elon’s vision of creating a tunnelling system that can dig tunnels 15 times faster than current machines, at a tenth of the cost.
The company is also facing legal challenges, after two LA groups – the Brentwood Residents Coalition and the Sunset Coalition – filed a case against LA city authorities earlier this month after they granted an environmental review exemption. The two groups have questioned the environmental impact of The Boring Company’s tunnelling. However, at the Information Session, Elon promised that he would willfully submit the project to a full environmental study – after the entire tunnel network has been built.
The Boring Company has taken it slow, choosing to build a 2.1-mile proof-of-concept tunnel in below SpaceX’s parking lot in the town of Hawthorne. The Company is now seeking permits for a 2.7-mile tunnel under Sepulveda Boulevard in Los Angeles, the first step toward a 60-mile tunnel network across the city. The LA Metro company tweeted yesterday that it would be “partners moving forward” with The Boring Company, to which Elon replied that he was excited about the partnership.
There are plans for a “weird little Disney ride in the middle of LA” (in Elon’s words) once The Boring Company’s test tunnel opens to the public. There’s no official timeline yet on when this can be expected, but it’s clear Elon has big plans for the future of The Boring Company.