Urban Design blog Curbed published an article recently which takes issue with Elon Musk’s Boring Company tunnel, which was unveiled at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show. According to the article, what was once touted as an underground transportation system has turned into a “mechanism for giving one-minute test rides in Teslas.”
In an article titled “Stop Calling Elon Musk’s Boring Tunnel Public Transit,” Curbed writer Alissa Walker raises issues with Elon Musk’s Boring Company tunnel being built in Las Vegas to transport people from one side of the Las Vegas convention center to the other, and should be ready for next year’s Consumer Electronics Show.
The Boring Company began work on the project in November of 2019 and planned to develop an underground transportation system to carry passengers less than a mile from one end of the convention center to the other. The tunnel is being built as part of a $46.68 million contract with the city’s convention and tourism authority.
Steve Hill, president of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, said at the tunnel’s November groundbreaking: “I think that 10, 15, 20 years from now, we’ll look back at this as a Kitty Hawk–type moment. This technology has the ability to change transportation not only here at the convention center, which is important to us, and here in Las Vegas, but around the country and around the world.”
Curbed notes that the Boring Company’s latest renderings of the tunnel don’t include the 16-passenger public transit vehicles that Musk promoted in 2017, but rather show Tesla Model 3 cars that can hold five passengers maximum. Curbed.com writes:
The vehicles also won’t be going 155 mph, as has been widely reported. Because the vehicles will travel between three stations along the 0.83-mile route, they will only reach speeds of up to 50 mph in each 0.4-mile segment.
And last month, Musk confirmed that the tunnels being dug by the Boring Company were indeed “road tunnels,” not transit tunnels at all, where the vehicles would travel on tires, not tracks. “Really, just an underground road, but limited to EVs (from all auto companies),” he tweeted.
Walker also notes that Musk has changed his tune about his tunnels in general, including how he plans to fix the issue of “soul destroying” traffic in Los Angeles:
But when transportation planners pointed out that the only way tunnels relieve traffic is by moving high-capacity vehicles, Musk went on the defensive. At a different conference, he bashed public transportation—where riders must share space with “a bunch of random strangers, one of whom might be a serial killer”—and called an influential transit consultant an “idiot.”
Then, in June 2018—about six months after his dustup with advocates—Musk abruptly changed his tune: The Boring Company’s plans would be adjusted to prioritize pedestrians and cyclists over cars. “Will still transport cars but only after all personalized mass transit needs are met,” he wrote on Twitter. “If someone can’t afford a car, they should go first.”
But Musk has provided no explanation for how, exactly, that would work.
Read the full article at Curbed.com here.