Chicago Picks Musk's Boring Co. for O'Hare Express Service

15 June, 2018, 11:10 | Author: Shannon Aguilar
  • Musk promises that the project will be 100 percent privately funded

The proposed link will shuttle eight to 16 passengers on "skate" electric vehicles in an underground loop between the airport and the Block 37 development in downtown Chicago.

The plan for the "Chicago Express Loop, " announced early Thursday by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Musk's tunneling firm, calls for the construction of an underground tunnel with concrete tracks on which "skates" - individual vehicles built on a modified Tesla X chassis - would carry 8 to 16 passengers at between 125 to 150 miles per hour from one of the world's busiest airports underneath some of the country's most congested roads.

Elon Musk addresses reporters, alongside Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, about his proposal to build a high-speed underground commuter system from Chicago's downtown Loop district to O'Hare International Airport, in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., June 14, 2018.

Emanuel's office said Chicago will negotiate directly and only with The Boring Company for a deal that will eventually be revealed to the City Council. That compares to the roughly 40 minutes it now takes to make it from O'Hare to the city via the Chicago Transportation Authority's Blue Line train. Experts have raised concerns over the financial viability of Loop transportation systems, as well as potential environmental and legal challenges. Shuttles would leave as frequently as every 30 seconds, and the system would operate 20 hours every day.

This comes about a month after Musk announced a plan for a high-speed network of "personalized mass transit tunnels" under Los Angeles. The company has said it's faster and cheaper than other subterranean projects.

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The plans to connect airports in Chicago and Los Angeles are a bit less ambitious than one Musk floated last summer, to connect New York City and Washington, D.C.

Chicago in March shortlisted Boring and O'Hare Xpress LLC, a consortium that included a company that designed a terminal London's Heathrow Airport, according to Bloomberg. "He's proven something", Emanuel said, according to the newspaper.

"Given his track record, we are taking his reputation and saying, "This is a guy in two other transportation modes who has not failed". While where is no official timeline for the project or an estimated cost, the Tribune cited a source who estimated price as less than $1 billion. The trip now takes 30 to 45 minutes. Video renderings of the system show autonomous vehicles that can pick up passengers at street level and then move them along concrete tubes to their destination. The Loop's 18-mile route supposedly would cost passengers $20 to $25 per trip.

Specific details about the project are unclear at this point, but The Boring Company does say that it will be 100% privately funded.

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