“Boring, it’s what we do,” he had said – and boring is what he did!
Elon Musk’s ‘The Boring Company’ on Tuesday (Dec 18) gave the first public demo of a 1.4-mile-section of the Loop – the company’s tunnel transportation system – in Hawthorne, California
An audience of invited VIPs and members of the press watched as a Tesla Model X SUV was lowered down on a metal lift from ground level to the starting point of the prototype section of the tunnel, known as “the pit.”
Here, the electric vehicle was fitted with a set of horizontally-aligned retractable “tracking wheels” before it moved forward for its maiden journey down the test tunnel.
As the lights on the tunnels’ roof changed from red to green, the car surged forward as each of the outward protruding wheels gripped and ran along the opposite sides of the tube – a sure-shot way of keeping the vehicle on course and preventing it from hitting the sides.
It was a clear deviation from the company’s original plan of using electric skates to transport vehicles.
At one point, The Boring Company had even considered electric pods as a mode of public transportation inside the Loop.
However, both plans were dropped in favor of the “tracking wheel” way of doing things.
While the system would not be limited to Tesla vehicles, they would have to be both electric and autonomous to be eligible for the tracking wheel, which could be pre-installed during configuration at an additional cost of $200 to $300.
The employee-driven EV achieved a maximum speed of 44 miles per hour (about 71 kph), which is still some way away from the promised 150 miles per hour.
“At that speed, it will feel like teleporting within a city,” Musk said.
Also, reporters who experienced the tunnel run first-hand said that the ride was a bit too bumpy for comfort.
The Space X and Tesla CEO blamed the “bumpiness” on “some issues with the paving machine not paving smoothly.”
“That bumpiness will definitely not be there down the road—it will be smooth as glass,” he promised.
The high-profile event was graced by celebrities like Kendrick Lamar, Grimes and Jared Leto along with donors and a battery of reporters; they were among the first to ride the Los Angeles Loop.
Celebrity entrepreneur and West Coast News anchor for Cheddar, Alyssa Julya Smith, called it an “EPIC” experience, tweeting that Musk’s answer to the “soul-crushing” traffic was “one step closer to being a reality.”
The only way to describe my experience going through the new #boringtunnel was EPIC! @elonmusk's solution to solve "soul-crushing" traffic is one step closer to being a reality. @boringcompany @cheddar pic.twitter.com/YGlOL5PGBg
— Alyssa Julya Smith (@IamAlyssaSmith) December 19, 2018
In the video accompanying the ‘CBS This Morning’ tweet below, the program’s co-host Gayle King can be seen riding the Loop alongside none other than Elon Musk himself, chatting him up as they go along on the bumpy run.
— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) December 19, 2018
“What I think this really amounts to is an actual solution to the soul-crushing burden of traffic,” Musk was quoted by ABC7 as saying.
“Why tunnels? Some people say, what about flying cars and all those other things and what about mass transit – I want to be clear, we’re not opposed to mass transit – we think mass transit is fine,” Musk said.
“Let’s try every solution possible, but the thing about tunnels is that you can go 3-D underground,” he added.
While Uber and others have been looking upwards to find ways of taking daily commute to the skies, Musk chose to find answers to LA’s traffic woes underground.
Musk’s tunnel vision (no pun intended) has come a long way since that December day in 2016 when he sat stuck in a Los Angeles traffic snarl and, just like that, decided to launch “The Boring Company” and build a tunnel to address the city’s traffic woes.
“Traffic is driving me nuts. Am going to build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging…,” he had tweeted from his car, following it up with another tweet that read, “It shall be called “The Boring Company.”
In August, The Boring Company announced that it was planning to add a tunnel that would connect Los Feliz, East Hollywood, or Rampart Village neighborhoods to Dodger Stadium.
Once operational, the tunnel would transport baseball fans and concertgoers, and everybody else who would like to make the trip in just about 4 minutes at an outrageously affordable cost of about a dollar per ride per person.
And, by the way, the company is officially calling it the Dugout Loop, which kind of fits, doesn’t it?
“The Boring Company is excited to announce Dugout Loop – a high-speed, zero-emissions, underground public transportation system, allowing fans to get from the Red Line to Dodger Stadium in under 4 minutes,” the company said in an Aug 16 tweet.
It is intended to provide an environment-friendly economical public transport option to some 250,000 people who brave the LA traffic every year to get to their favorite game or concert taking place at the stadium – home to the city’s Major League Baseball franchise, the Los Angeles Dodgers.
While that is a just a small percentage of the number of people who visit the stadium each year, the company said it was a start that should “complement the existing public transportation systems and provide an all-electric and affordable option” to people headed that way.
The company also said:
“Initially, Dugout Loop will be limited to approximately 1,400 people (approximately 2.5% of Stadium capacity) per event.
“Based on City and community feedback, it could be possible to increase ridership per game to 2,800 per game or event (5% of Stadium capacity).
“Between games and events Dugout Loop would transport 250,000 people per year.”
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti had wholeheartedly welcomed the proposal, saying that the innovative idea “could help ease congestion on our roads and make our most iconic destinations more accessible to everyone.”
Always exciting to see innovative ideas like the proposed Dugout Loop to @Dodgers Stadium that could help ease congestion on our roads and make our most iconic destinations more accessible to everyone. https://t.co/vleQtpUqnt
— Mayor Eric Garcetti (@MayorOfLA) August 16, 2018
The 3.6-mile-long single-line tunnel between the stadium and the western terminus is being planned to run underneath public right-of-way or land belonging to or leased by The Boring Company, while the eastern terminus on the stadium side would be built on “privately owned property at or near the Dodger Stadium parking lot.”
The construction phase is expected to last for about 12-14 months, during which time the company proposes to build the tunnel and two Loop Lifts – one each for the eastern and western terminuses – along with 6 ventilation shafts that would also serve as emergency exit points.
The shafts, which shouldn’t take longer than six weeks to complete, would be located on the privately-owned property, alongside the alignment.
Only time will tell whether city commute goes subterranean or takes to the air first – all we know for now is that the race is on.