March 10, 2018
If you’ve made plans to drive your car through Elon Musk’s tunnels of the future, you may have to wait. Pedestrians and cyclists will have a front-of-the-line pass in the entrepreneur’s underground mass-transit dream.
“Adjusting The Boring Company plan,” he said on Twitter on Friday, “all tunnels & Hyperloop will prioritize pedestrians & cyclists over cars.”
The high-profile owner of Tesla and SpaceX posted animation that showcased high-tech train-cars that would elevate to take on passengers, then ease down into tunnels to speed riders to their destinations under Southern California’s surface.
For months, Musk has teased an evolving vision for his the sci-fi-movie-style three-dimensional tunnel network, called Loop. The concept was born out of frustration — Musk first tweeted his idea after getting snarled in Los Angeles freeway gridlock.
A two-mile test track is now under construction, adjacent to Musk’s rocket-manufacturing company SpaceX in Hawthorne, running west under 120th Street toward the 405 Freeway. It would connect to the main part of the tunnel network, according to the plans.
The line, as Musk envisioned it in a plan he submitted to Los Angeles’ Department of Engineering last year, would run from Long Beach Airport to Sherman Oaks, parallel to the 405 Freeway. Short complementary routes from Los Angeles International Airport to Dodger Stadium, and out to the beaches in Santa Monica and the South Bay beach cities, also are in the plans.
In that plan, passengers would speed through the all-electric system inside rectangular pods attached to autonomous skates that are affixed to a track more than 30 feet below ground.
Early on, Musk hinted motorists — like himself — would guide their own cars through his transit tunnels, thus eluding the pain of L.A. gridlock. But lately, in plans that have evolved on social media for months, he’s put the emphasis on mass transit, adding these streamlined submerged shuttles with a Blade Runner vibe to the mix.
It’s simply the polite thing to do, he said.
“Will still transport cars,” Musk posted on Twitter, “but only after all personalized mass transit needs are met. It’s a matter of courtesy & fairness. If someone can’t afford a car, they should go first.”
Pedestrians first, Elon Musk declares, tweeting new details of his tunnel-transit dream
At the heart of the system of Musk’s dreams are electric-powered skates. “The electric skate is a platform on wheels propelled by multiple electric motors which can be used to transport between 8 and 16 passengers,” according to an excavation permit released last year by Los Angeles’ Department of Engineering. “The skate’s top speed within Los Angeles of between 125 and 150 mph is well below the skate’s maximum capabilities and is a standard operating speed used routinely in The Boring Company’s testing facility in Hawthorne.”
Friday’s tweets refined that plan a bit, adding a network of pocket-sized pickup points.
“Boring Co urban loop system would have 1000’s of small stations the size of a single parking space that take you very close to your destination & blend seamlessly into the fabric of a city,” he promised on Twitter, “rather than a small number of big stations like a subway.”
He’s previously pledged that his new buses will travel way faster than Metro’s current models. “I guess you could say it’s a 150 mph, underground, autonomous, electric bus,” he tweeted, “but that automatically switches between tunnels and lifts.”
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