Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk has won approval to build a 29-mile tunnel system underneath the Las Vegas strip.
It will allow up to 57,000 passengers to hitch rides in Teslas to and from casinos every hour, as well as to the city’s airport and the Raiders football stadium.
The SpaceX founder’s Boring Company already operates a smaller version of the ‘Vegas Loop’ system underneath the Las Vegas Convention Center, which opened earlier this year to lackluster reviews.
Instead of futuristic cars zipping people from place to place at high speeds, it features regular Tesla vehicles being driven by humans trundling through a tunnel at just 35mph.
However, a huge city-wide expansion of the tunnels, which was proposed by The Boring Company in December last year, has now been approved by Vegas officials.
The future is now: Elon Musk has won approval to build a 29-mile tunnel system underneath the Las Vegas strip. The SpaceX founder’s Boring Company already operates a smaller version of the ‘Vegas Loop’ system (pictured) under the Las Vegas Convention Center
The Vegas Loop will feature 51 stations along the 29-mile network (pictured), each of which will need separate permits to be approved before they are developed
KEY FACTS ABOUT THE NEW ‘VEGAS LOOP’
Who came up with the idea?
Elon Musk, The Boring Company
How long will it be?
Where can I travel to and from?
It will allow riders to be transported between McCarran International Airport, the Las Vegas Raiders’ Allegiant Stadium and to and from casinos on the strip
How many passengers will it transport?
The Boring Company estimates up to 57,000 people every hour
How many stations will it have?
51, with five to 10 opening within the first six months of construction
Would I have to stop at every station on my journey?
No. Unlike the London Underground, the Vegas Loop will be a point-to-point system so passengers won’t have to stop at each station along the way. Instead they can be transported directly to where they want to go
When will it be built?
Boring will have three years to complete construction or have at least a portion of the system that is in the county’s right-of-way in operation
What vehicles will be used?
Electric Teslas, eventually self-driving
How fast will they travel?
At the moment, cars travelling in the existing system are limited to about 35mph because of the short nature of the tunnels. However, these speeds could increase with automated cars.
How much will it cost?
A five-mile trip from the airport to the convention center will take about five minutes and cost $10 (£7.25), while the four-minute ride from the center to Allegiant Stadium will cost $6 (£4.35)
It will feature 51 stations along the 29-mile network, each of which will need separate permits to be approved before they are developed.
The Boring Company will also have to get a separate franchise agreement approved by the city of Las Vegas before work can begin.
Boring President Steve Davis said the system would be built in phases, with five to 10 stations opening within the first six months of construction.
Between 15 to 20 stations will then be added each year until it is finished, he added.
Once built, Musk’s firm expects a five-mile trip from the airport to the convention center to take about five minutes and cost $10 (£7.25), while a 3.6-mile ride from the center to Raiders’ Allegiant Stadium would take four minutes and cost $6 (£4.35).
Unlike the London Underground, for example, the Vegas Loop will be a point-to-point system, so passengers won’t have to stop at each station along the way.
Instead, they can be picked up and transported directly to where they want to go without having to stop at each resort along the way.
‘The most important thing is the express nature of this,’ Davis told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
‘In Las Vegas you have a very populated, very impressive resort or property and you have 51 stations that’s being proposed here and (if) you have to stop at every one, that’s a very, very long trip.
‘If you can get in a vehicle and not wait for the vehicle, walk into a station and the vehicle is waiting for you. And go directly to your (destination) station, you can really solve the traffic problem.’
No taxpayer money will be spent on the loop system, Clark County officials said.
The Boring Company has previously said it will cover the cost of building the tunnels, but wants hotel casinos to pay for the construction of stations.
While it has not revealed how much the latest installment of the project will cost, The Boring Company previously spent $52.5 million building the two one-way, 0.8-mile tunnels and three passenger stations underneath the city’s convention center.
The system, which was first unveiled in April, will ultimately allow up to 4,400 convention attendees per hour to be whisked across the sprawling campus in just under two minutes. On foot, the journey would take approximately 25 minutes.
Underwhelming: Instead of futuristic cars zipping people from place to place at high speeds, the current Vegas tunnels feature regular Tesla vehicles being driven by humans at just 35mph
The Boring Company has previously said it will cover the cost of building the tunnels, but wants hotel casinos to pay for the construction of stations
Early plans for the system depicted vehicles that could carry 16 people at once, but for now it is regular electric Model 3 and Model X Tesla cars providing the rides.
The vehicles are limited to around 35mph because of the short distance of the tunnels.
The Boring Company has been working on expanding its tunnels underneath Las Vegas for a few years, but Musk’s vision of his public transportation system has changed dramatically.
He considered using sleds to shuttle cars from the surface to the tunnels and back, and also whether to have pods that would give priority to cyclists and pedestrians.
But the underwhelming response to the first unveiling of the system led to it being dubbed ‘Teslas in Tunnels’ — a phrase that’s even used by The Boring Company on its website.
Musk has long advocated a futuristic underground train system, called the Hyperloop, that would allow passenger capsules on Tesla-built chassis to move through low-pressure tubes at high speeds. He spoke in front of one of the Las Vegas area tunnels in late 2018
Even Musk appeared to acknowledge it was not quite as he’d envisioned, tweeting: ‘We simplified this a lot. It’s basically just Teslas in tunnels at this point, which is way more profound than it sounds.’
The aim is for the Teslas to eventually drive themselves, although the software to make this possible is not yet finished. That means they are currently being driven by humans.
Explaining the benefits of the Vegas Loop, The Boring Company writes on its website: ‘To solve the problem of soul-destroying traffic, roads must go 3D, which means either flying cars or tunnels are needed.
‘Unlike flying cars, tunnels are weatherproof, out of sight, and won’t fall on your head. Tunnels minimise usage of valuable surface land and do not conflict with existing transportation systems.
‘A large network of tunnels can alleviate congestion in any city; no matter how large a city grows, more levels of tunnels can be added.’
In the future, The Boring Company hopes to eventually be able to expand its Vegas transportation system all the way to Los Angeles, with stops at various towns on the way.
WHAT IS ELON MUSK’S ‘BORING’ PLAN?
When Elon Musk first announced his plans to bore a tunnel to his SpaceX offices in Los Angeles, it was hard to know if he was simply venting his frustrations about being stuck in traffic.
‘Traffic is driving me nuts. Am going to build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging…’, he tweeted in December of 2016.
He ended his rant on the social media site with: ‘I am actually going to do this’.
The billionaire’s tunnel-digging firm ‘The Boring Company’ has presented its plans to build a 6.5-mile (10.5 km) shaft under Culver City, California, at a council meeting. Pictured is an image shared by Musk in October of the firm’s test tunnel in Los Angeles
The billionaire first tweeted a picture of his firm’s boring machine back in February 2017 with the caption ‘Minecraft’ – a reference to the popular video game in which players dig large tunnel networks for resources.
On Monday, January 22, 2018, the Boring Company presented plans to build the 6.5-mile (10.5 km) shaft under Culver City, California, at a council meeting.
According to the plans, the privately-funded tunnel would carry cars on ‘electric skates’ at 150 miles per hour (240 kph) to help with LA’s ‘soul-destroying’ congestion.
The proposed route goes through West Los Angeles passing underneath Sepulveda Boulevard through Culver City.
The tunnel could also make Hyperloop adoption viable.
Hyperloop is a proposed method of travel that would transport people at over 600 miles per hour (965.6 kilometers per hour) between distant locations.
Musk’s proposed first tunnel will run from LAX to Culver City, then to Santa Monica, and end in Westwood. Musk claims the tunnel trip will take five minutes, compared to 45 minutes driving in normal LA traffic
It was unveiled by Elon Musk in 2013, who at the time said it could take passengers the 380 miles (610km) from LA to San Francisco in 30 minutes – half the time it takes a plane.
It is essentially a long tube that has had the air removed to create a vacuum.
The tube is suspended off the ground to protect against weather and earthquakes.
In August of 2017, Elon Musk took to social media to share progress on his traffic-beating tunnel beneath Los Angeles, revealing it was big enough to fit a Tesla Model S