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Hyperloop concept
Elon Musk’s original Hyperloop concept called for passengers to travel through pneumatic tubes in pods. (Tesla / SpaceX Illustration)

A loop to the Loop? It could happen: Billionaire Elon Musk says he’s willing to build an express transit system that links downtown Chicago with O’Hare International Airport.

Musk’s expression of interest came in response to Chicago’s “request for qualifications” relating to the system — which would be designed to cut travel times to 20 minutes or less, for a fare that costs less than a taxi or ride-hailing service. The Chicago Tribune said the fare could be in the range of $25 or more.

In a tweet, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the express route would “give Chicagoans and visitors to our great city more options, faster travel time, and build on Chicago’s competitive advantage as a global hub of tourism, transportation and trade.”

No public funding would be provided. Instead, the concessionaire would have to finance the project and earn the money back from fares, advertising revenue and other sources.

That could be tricky, but Musk is all in. In fact, he’s been talking with Chicago city officials about this for months. Back in July, he tweeted that the “City of Chicago already approached us about doing a high speed tunnel from O’Hare to downtown.”

“They’ve been great,” he said at the time.

Today he tweeted his confirmation that he’d respond to the RFQ:

In response to questions, he provided further details about how a “Loop” will be different from a “Hyperloop.”

The Boring Company will have until Jan. 24 to file its response.

Chicago isn’t the only place where Musk’s tunneling venture could be laying out a loop. The company is continuing work to extend a tunnel leading away from SpaceX’s headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif., toward Los Angeles. And it’s working with Maryland officials to develop a transit tunnel that would stretch between Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

Who knows? The Boring Company, which was once considered something of a lark, may well take up a bigger proportion of Musk’s time — leaving less for SpaceX, Tesla and his other pursuits.

Read Chicago’s RFQ for the O’Hare Express System

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