Elon Musk says the Boring Company’s first test tunnel for its high-speed transit system will open to the public in a matter of months.
In a tweet announcing the news, the billionaire entrepreneur said that free rides will be offered to the public on December 11 after a launch event on the previous day.
Opens Dec 10
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 22, 2018
Running for about three miles, the test tunnel is being constructed in Hawthorne, California, the home of another of Musk’s business ventures, SpaceX.
According to the Boring Company’s website, the tunnel travels a short distance north from below SpaceX’s headquarters before turning and traveling west for several miles. But the route of the test tunnel isn’t actually that important. Rather, the December unveiling presents a huge opportunity for Elon Musk and the Boring Company to give the project global publicity and show off the system’s potential.
In case it’s passed you by, Musk’s ambition is not only to revolutionize the tunneling industry with faster, more efficient boring machines, but to use them to build networks of tunnels aimed at easing congestion on busy city streets.
Cars, as well as foot passengers and cyclists, would be transported on electric-powered sleds at speeds of up to 150 mph to multiple destinations across the city. Vehicles and passenger pods would be lowered onto the sleds from street level via an elevator system, though the elevators may also connect to office buildings or even private residences.
When a journey begins, the sled moves from a side tunnel onto the main track in order to keep all of the passengers constantly on the move. “This is a big difference compared to subways that stop at every stop, whether you’re getting off or not,” Musk has said previously.
Will it really happen?
It all sounds very exciting, but to make it a reality, Musk first needs to prove that the system actually works, and then convince regulators of its safety and financial viability.
With many cities struggling with gridlocked streets, proposals for solutions are always welcomed by the authorities, though whether they come to fruition is of course another question entirely. Encouragingly for the Boring Company, it’s been selected to enter into negotiations to design a high-speed, 18-mile tunnel link between downtown Chicago and O’Hare International Airport, and the company’s idea for a route between Dodger Stadium and a transit hub in Los Angeles also received supportive responses from the authorities.
If December’s demonstration turns out to be more than just a fancy theme park ride, perhaps Musk’s ambitious subterranean plan really could transform city traffic across the nation, though admittedly it’s going to be a far from straightforward task.