‘Traffic drives me crαzy’: Is Musk’s ‘The Boring Company’ the future of tunneling or just a fad?

The Boring Company was established with the intention of creating subterranean tunnels to relieve traffic congestion in major cities like Los Angeles. However, six years later, there are just a few public tunnels that are accessible, and they only extend 1.7 miles (2.7 kilometers) beneath the Las Vegas Convention Center.

The LVCC Loop system is only in use during conferences like CES, the largest electronics expo in the world, which is taking place this week in the capital of the State of Nevada. It has three stations in total, two of which are above ground and one underground. Although the trips between them are currently free, numerous employees EL PAS contacted do not completely rule out the possibility that they would become expensive in the future. This newspaper has made contact with the company, but it has not yet released a statement about it.

Directions are given to CES guests at the LVCC West Station by many employees wearing flashing yellow vests while music is playing in the background. One of them, without giving a reason, states, “It is only possible to go to Central Station because South Station is closed today. After that, he instructs them on where to wait for the car. It is possible that other people will ride in the back with a solo traveler. New vehicles arrive at the station every few seconds. All of them are white, black, and gray Teslas when they emerge from the tunnel.

A panel at the station provides information on the number of seats left in the upcoming cars.

Barbara Rubio

Most drivers have an earpiece in one ear, and some have a cap with “Vegas loop” written on it. They politely extend greetings and confirm the passengers’ destinations. Bryan, an American driver who has worked for The Boring Company since June 2022, says, “I’m going to save you half a mile on foot (approximately 800 meters) in about 30 seconds.” Google Maps estimates that it will take roughly 10 minutes to walk from the LVCC West Station to Central Station.

Bryan describes his job as “amazing,” adding that it’s great to be a part of something new and that he gets to meet people and drive a car that costs tens of thousands of dollars. He descends a hill from the LVCC West Station and enters a circular tunnel. The path, which includes a few straight sections and a few gentle turns, is quite brief. Despite Musk’s prediction that cars would eventually be able to travel through the tunnel at a speed of roughly 240 km/h, the car’s top speed in testing conducted by this publication was only 36 mph. 57 kilometers per hour, to be exact.

Tunnels with colored lights

The walls of the tunnel’s floor are lined with color-changing light strips that give the tunnel’s overall pink, green, blue, or yellow illumination a futuristic feel. On sometimes, we catch a glimpse of another car. According to The Boring Company, these tunnels cost roughly $47 million and took about a year to construct using boring machines. There isn’t much room on the sides when driving through them. Mexican driver Alberto Nez, who has been operating these vehicles for six months, guarantees that any vehicle can be evacuated in five minutes in the event of an ҽmҽrgҽncy. He claims that because one car can push another, traffic will never halt.

Nez glances at a huge screen in the front of the automobile as he drives. It includes information like as speed, whether or not passengers are wearing seatbelts, and whether or not visibility is compromised, in addition to the pictures taken by the outside-car cameras. The reduction of traffic on popular routes like the Strip is the key benefit for this driver of building these tunnels across Las Vegas or other cities.

The proposed projects in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Baltimore have reportedly been abandoned, thus it is unclear if Musk will be able to bring these tunnels to additional locations. The Las Vegas project still differs significantly from Musk’s original design. Tesla’s creator promised in 2018 that their vehicles will feature wheels that could adjust to tunnel rails, but he also appears to have abandoned this notion.

Additionally, he promised that only electric and driverless vehicles will be able to use them when he demonstrated a prototype of these tunnels in Los Angeles (California). The cars are currently being driven. Nez does, however, foresee the day when “you will exit the airport and a car with no one inside will take you where you need to go.” Bryan concedes, “Having us here is a lot of effort; I imagine not having drivers would make the service cheaper.”

Up to 4,400 passengers per hour

According to The Boring Company, LVCC Loop has been operational at each conference since it started in 2021. It carried “between 24,000 and 26,000 passengers every day” at the SEMA 2021 auto show. It was utilized by “between 14,000 and 17,000 individuals daily” at CES the previous year, with an average travel time of under two minutes and a wait time of under 15 seconds. In 2021, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) Chairman Steve Hill tweeted that the system could accommodate roughly 4,400 people per hour.

In a Tesla Model 3, John Merrill, an Indiana State CES participant, has driven through these subterranean tunnels. It’s a lovely small tunnel system, and, in his opinion, Barcelona and other cities could benefit from it. The sole benefit, according to Honduran Eddie Avila, “is that you don’t have to walk and it’s quick.” Despite his assurances that he enjoys walking, he believes that Las Vegas needs these kinds of systems: “We have terrible traffic, so going to the airport, for instance, would be helpful.”

Yeji Kim, a South Korean visitor to the fair, notes that as there are no hotels or traffic lights in between, it is “quicker to go through these tunnels than the road.” The fact that they are electric cars, though, is what he finds most appealing. None of these helpers have discovered any systemic issues. As Kim notes, “it’s difficult to detect the possible drawbacks in a single journey.”