As organizations like Hyperloop One propose potential routes for their high-tech, high-speed transportation pipelines, Elon Musk's own The Boring Company (opens in new tab) (yes, it's really called that) looks to have the go-ahead for an experimental track of its own.
The techno-entrepreneur tweeted (opens in new tab) today that he received "verbal [government] approval" for an underground route connecting New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, DC. It will make the trip to its two ends points – a distance of more than 200 miles – in 29 minutes, Musk claims.
Just received verbal govt approval for The Boring Company to build an underground NY-Phil-Balt-DC Hyperloop. NY-DC in 29 mins.July 20, 2017
Musk's goal with The Boring Company is to cut travel time, traffic and pollution by combining a complex network of underground tunnels with high-speed "electric skates". These are capable of carrying cars and other vehicles to speeds up to 125mph (about 200km/h) or even over 600mph (about 970km/h) if vacuum-sealed into a Hyperloop pod.
Using special city centers with "up to a dozen or more" access points per city, Musk says passengers using his company's tunnel can get between New York and DC in less than half an hour. (To contrast, it currently takes about 4.5 hours to make the drive.)
Now, it can't be understated that Musk is speaking about uncited verbal permission he received from unnamed government personnel, so how far along The Boring Company is to making this new plan a reality is uncertain.
(It doesn't help that NYC mayor Bill DeBlasio's press secretary, Eric Phillips, tweeted (opens in new tab) earlier today claiming that this is the first time City Hall has heard of Musk's proposal.)
The entirety of what we know about this proposal is what's in Mr. Musk's Tweet. That is not how we evaluate projects of any scale. https://t.co/kcJR17SMCsJuly 20, 2017
As reported by Bloomberg (opens in new tab), the verbal approval may have come from the White House, which says it's had "promising conversations to date" with Musk and The Boring Company, but wouldn't go further.
What's more, according to Engadget (opens in new tab), The Boring Company hasn't had any conversations with city officials along the East Coast route Musk named today, but a number are excited about the prospect.
Musk mentioned last month that he had "promising conversations" with the mayor of Los Angeles for a similar tunnel structure in the city, and today Musk expanded that the first set of tunnels "are to alleviate greater LA urban congestion."
"Will start NY-DC in parallel. Then prob LA-SF and a TX loop," he tweeted (opens in new tab), indicating underground tunnels are heading to The Lone Star State, too.
That said, Musk adds in another tweet that while there's still a" lot of work needed" before he gets on-the-record approval to construct his subterranean superhighway, he has high hopes for the underground project.
Still a lot of work needed to receive formal approval, but am optimistic that will occur rapidlyJuly 20, 2017
Michelle Fitzsimmons contributed to this report