Elon Musk’s passion for tunnels is surprisingly infectious, with the tech entrepreneur revealing that he’s recently had “promising conversations” with the mayor of Los Angeles to bring The Boring Company's underground traffic solution to the city.
In a tweet, Musk said that his planned network of tunnels would be able to “carry cars, bikes and pedestrians” in an attempt to reduce overground congestion. He did, however, add that at the moment securing the permits required to build such an extensive underground network would be more difficult than developing the technology.
To back up his assertion that Eric Garcetti is interested in the idea, Musk linked a recent interview the mayor had on ABC where he mentioned Musk’s tunneling technology as a means of creating a quick and direct line to the city’s airport.
Promising conversations with @MayorOfLA regarding tunnel network that would carry cars, bikes & pedestrians. Permits harder than technology. https://t.co/0dxrXBOOWyJune 18, 2017
Plans are up in the air
Judging from the interview clip it seems Garcetti is more thinking along the lines of an express train rather than an extensive tunnel network for bikes and pedestrians but it’s an indication talks are indeed happening. What stage they’re at we can’t be sure of.
Though Los Angeles’ mayor is showing interest, not everyone thinks that Musk’s underground traffic solution is a good one.
According to DriveSpark, In a recent sustainable mobility conference this week in Montreal, Uber Elevate Director of Engineering Mark Moore talked up airborne transportation as the best way to reduce congestion while challenging the cost-effectiveness of Musk’s tunneling plans.
Elon Musk hasn’t hidden his feelings about flying cars – on The Boring Company’s FAQ page it says: “Unlike flying cars, tunnels are weatherproof, out of sight and won't fall on your head.”
This is a pretty damning indictment of the flying car solution Uber feels so strongly about, so it’s not surprising that Moore slammed Musk’s tunneling plans for not being “economically feasible".
Uber plans to start testing its VTOL mobility system in Dallas in 2020, with plans for a commercial launch of the service in 2023 which is a more solid timeline than The Boring Company currently has.
Whatever happens, it's great to see two big tech companies tackling the problem of heavily congested cities, even if their plans are rather ambitious.