Elon Musk is fixated on moving people from Point A to Point B efficiently. The core mission of Tesla Motors was to get people out of fossil fueled cars and into vehicles powered by electricity. Then, one day, Elon got caught in a traffic jam on his way to the Los Angeles International Airport and the idea of transporting people underground via numerous distributed tunnels sprang from his brow.
The earlier hyperloop concept probably first got him thinking about digging holes in the earth, through which he would run people pods at speeds up to 700 mph, but the 2016 traffic jam led him to create The Boring Company and a vision of world cities being crisscrossed by a multi-tiered system of tunnels as many as a dozen layers deep for vehicles to drive through while avoiding gridlock on surface streets. Many will remember a video last year that showed a Tesla Model S being whisked underground by an elevator to be deposited onto a track in one of those tunnels.
There was a lot of criticism of the concept from people in the city planning — especially transportation planning — world. In particular, while the video looked good, the question of why there wouldn’t be long lines of traffic sitting at elevator entrances never seemed to get answered.
Now, Elon has re-imagined his creation as a people mover only — no private vehicles at all, only a collection of surface-level stations where people can board an autonomous transportation pod, which will then be lowered underground to join the tunnel system The Boring Company has created.
Sharp-eyed readers may look at the bus-like transport module and wonder if it is the 10 to 12 passenger vehicle Musk spoke about last year that he claims could be built on the Model X chassis. They will also notice the pod in the video is headed toward LAX. The horror of being stuck in traffic on the way to the airport still gives Elon nightmares, apparently. The video doesn’t make clear where people taking the Musk Mobile to LAX will park their cars while they are off jetting around the world or how they will transport their luggage. Nor does it mention anything about the cost of using the system or who is going to pay to build it.
One of the joys of being a visionary is never having to get bogged down in the minutia of reality. “If I can envision it, they will build it and the customers will come,” seems to be the thought process inside Musk’s prodigious brain. Perhaps we should be thankful he is not proposing suborbital rocket rides from city centers to surrounding airports.