While working towards the revolutionization of transportation on Earth, Elon Musk’s enterprise –Boring Company – has finally revealed the first look of its much talked about the project, The Las Vegas Convention Centre Loop.
Described as “a high-speed underground public transportation system in which passengers are transported via compatible autonomous electric vehicles”, the loop was first publicly conceptualized back in 2018 when Musk hinted towards using bus-like shuttles for mass transportation. The latest rendering released by him in July 2020 depicts a rather conventional-looking underground station with the caption ‘Coming Soon’ and features Tesla Model X and Model 3 vehicles with a maximum capacity of five instead, with a tram placed at the Model 3 platform that fits 12-16 passengers. When questioned about the change in the typology of the vehicles and therefore, their capacity, Musk stated that having people seated in these smaller models would be much safer and that he will never work towards expanding their capacity because “Individualized mass transit is the future.” As per the Boring Company’s website, a lesser number of people per vehicle is also advantageous in relevance to the current pandemic’s situation and their FAQ section states that “Loop vehicles carry small numbers of passengers (as low as one). This allows Loop passengers to travel with people they know and reduces the risk of exposure to airborne diseases presented by crowds. Additionally, rider high-touch surfaces are well understood within Loop vehicles, which can then be cleaned and disinfected between rides.” Initiated by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) in 2019, the $50 million projects are currently looking at the transportation of approximately 4500 people per hour via these tunnels in a span of fewer than 120 seconds, as opposed to the cross-campus walk that takes at least fifteen minutes.
The Las Vegas Convention Centre Loop or the ‘people mover’ as it is fondly called, will comprise two 14-foot wide tunnels for a length of 0.83 miles. Situated right beneath the Centre, the present proposal will connect its West hall to its North hall, while having a stopover at the South hall (and vice-versa). Not to be confused with a public transportation service, the Convention Centre Loop is an exclusive amenity for the center’s guests and prospective customers and will be offered as a free service. Designed as a system of modified and driverless electric sedans, each vehicle will be clamped to a set of guide rails and zip down the tunnel at a speed of upwards of 150 miles per hour.
After completing the excavation of both these tunnels in May 2020 and celebrating with a flashy video, Musk’s Boring Company plans on expanding the reach of these underground loops to a much larger context. Apart from visualizing an expansion of this tunnel system that connects the whole of Vegas through this revolutionary loop, the company is in talks to build another high-speed tunnel between Washington and Baltimore that is currently going through an environmental review process. A three-and-a-half-mile route is also being proposed for baseball fans that will connect the Dodger Stadium with Los Feliz, East Hollywood, and the Rampart Village neighborhood. Initial tests for the loop transportation system are being conducted in a test tunnel in Hawthorne, which is also being used for research and development.
Musk believes that transportation through tunnels is the future of traveling because of a variety of benefits. These include minimal land use, minimal surface impact, weatherproof operation, flexible architecture, unlimited capacity, and future expansion. The website states that “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.” The Boring Company is also working on a similar system called the ‘Hyperloop’, which will carry its passengers intra-city through a vacuum-sealed tunnel at a speed upwards of 600 miles per hour. With many more projects coming up, the company is aiming for The Las Vegas Convention Centre Loop to become operational by the summer of 2021.