The founder of SpaceX and Tesla is accustomed to flashy enterprises and larger-than-life dreams (that all seem to be coming to fruition), and now, he’s turning his attention to a simple problem that plagues all of us: Traffic. Because why shouldn’t it take us 29 minutes to get from New York to Washington D.C.? With Musk’s Boring Company, this could be our new reality.
A look at just how (not) boring the Boring Company really is
Just hours after the Boring Company received permission to build its most ambitious project yet in Chicago, Musk took to YouTube to share what appears to be the first full-scale test of a vehicle zooming through one of the company’s now-famous tunnels.
The video, aptly titled Model X Test Run, shows a Tesla Model X being moved through a tunnel underneath Los Angeles in much the way the team has previously described — the car itself doesn’t move, but rather is placed on two parallel tracks that appear to propel the car forward through the cavernous underground space. This particular Model X didn’t seem to be hauling along at supersonic speeds, but hey — one step at a time, right?
Boring in Chicago
It’s not just our nation’s capital where work is being done. In June 2018, the mayor’s office of Chicago announced that the Boring Company had been tapped to begin construction on a tunnel to link O’Hare International airport and downtown Chicago. In total, this project will be comprised of 18 miles of rail for the self-driving, 16-passenger cars that are capable of hitting top speeds of 150 miles per hour. It also represents the largest contract the Boring Company has secured thus far.
While it’s unclear when construction will be finished (or how much it will cost), current plans suggest that it would take just 12 minutes to get from the Loop in downtown Chicago to O’Hare airport. The proposed ticket price is currently somewhere in the $20 to $25 range.
A nearly complete tunnel in LA
Back in May, Musk revealed that the Boring Company’s very first tunnel was nearly complete. The 2.7-mile long route is in Los Angeles, and on May 10, the entrepreneur shared a video of the tunnel on Instagram.
First Boring Company tunnel under LA almost done! Pending final regulatory approvals, we will be offering free rides to the public in a few months. Super huge thanks to everyone that helped with this project. Strong support from public, elected officials & regulators is critical to success. As mentioned in prior posts, once fully operational (demo system rides will be free), the system will always give priority to pods for pedestrians & cyclists for less than the cost of a bus ticket.
“Pending final regulatory approvals, we will be offering free rides to the public in a few months,” he noted. “As mentioned in prior posts, once fully operational (demo system rides will be free), the system will always give priority to pods for pedestrians & cyclists for less than the cost of a bus ticket.” The Los Angeles Times further noted that the route is “parallel to Sepulveda Boulevard, starting at Pico Boulevard and running down to Washington Boulevard in Culver City,” and that the tunnel itself is 30 to 70 feet underground.
A sneak peek at what’s boring
Previously, in March, Musk teased us with a quick look at what the future of transportation might look like. In a series of tweet, the executive noted that the Boring Company would focus on shuttles rather than cars, and will move both people and bicycles from Point A to Point B. This, Musk says, will aid in the company’s aim to “prioritize pedestrians [and] cyclists over cars.” This is a matter of “courtesy and fairness,” the entrepreneur tweeted. “If someone can’t afford a car, they should go first.”
Adjusting The Boring Company plan: all tunnels & Hyperloop will prioritize pedestrians & cyclists over cars
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 9, 2018
In total, the Boring Company’s urban loop system will have thousands of stations about the size of a standard parking space that will take riders to their destinations, but will “blend seamlessly into the fabric of a city.”
Better video coming soon, but it would look a bit like this: pic.twitter.com/C0iJPi8b4U
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 9, 2018
From D.C. to New York in 30 minutes
2018 as a whole has been an exciting one for the Boring Company. At the beginning of the year, the Washington Post reported, “The Boring Company team has received an early, and vague, building permit from the D.C. government that will allow some preparatory and excavation work at the fenced-off parking lot at 53 New York Avenue NE beside a McDonald’s and amid the construction cranes of Washington’s booming NoMa neighborhood.” A spokesperson for the company also noted that “a New York Avenue location, if constructed, could become a station.”
The approval came a few months after Musk received approval to begin digging in Maryland, which will be one of the stops along the new northeastern route. The state gave Musk the go-ahead to begin digging a 10.3-mile tunnel beneath the Baltimore-Washington Parkway in October, marking the first part of the New York to D.C. route.
“This thing is real. It’s exciting to see,” Maryland transportation secretary Pete Rahn said at the time. “The word ‘transformational’ may be overused, but this is a technology that leapfrogs any technology that is out there today. And it’s going to be here.”
The beginnings of the Boring Company
So how did it all start? Obviously, the man who conceptualized the Hyperloop has never had the patience for sitting in gridlock, and in December 2016, the entrepreneur took to Twitter to express his frustration, and more important, his solution. “Traffic is driving me nuts. Am going to build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging…” he wrote cryptically on December 17 of last year. And just for good measure, he added later, “I am actually going to do this.”
Traffic is driving me nuts. Am going to build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging…
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 17, 2016
The tunnels for the Boring Company began “across from [Musk’s] desk at SpaceX,” which is located near “Crenshaw and the 105 Freeway,” about five minutes from LAX, Musk said at the time. He’s also addressed concerns about earthquakes, noting that these natural phenomena “tend to have the biggest effect on the surface, like waves on water. That’s why LA can have a (lame, but getting better) subway.”
In late April 2017, he spoke at a TED conference where he outlined more concrete plans for his underground company. Per a concept video, Musk intends to drop cars (gently, of course), beneath Earth’s surface by way of a system of elevator platforms. Cars will drive onto designated areas, which will then be lowered beneath the ground. Once underground, however, the cars won’t be driving themselves. Rather, they will be controlled autonomously by the system at large and sent to their final destinations at speeds of up to 130 miles per hour.
Fingers crossed, we’ll soon be able to put Musk’s claims to the tests. And honestly, anything that can help us east coasters avoid the horrendous traffic that is the northeastern corridor is a win in our book.
Updated on June 17: Added news that the Boring Company has tested one of its tunnels in LA with a Tesla Model X.