The details may be fuzzy, but billionaire Elon Musk says he’s aiming to open the Boring Company’s first test tunnel beneath the Los Angeles area to the public in a few months, “pending final regulatory approvals.”
The Boring Company has been working for well more than a year on a tunnel that has its entrance in what was once a parking lot next to SpaceX’s headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif.
Last month, the Los Angeles City Council’s public works committee approved an environmental review exemption that cleared the way for another tunnel project beneath West Los Angeles. As laid out by the Los Angeles Times, the Boring Company’s plan traces a 2.7-mile route that lies 30 to 70 feet below ground.
First Boring Company tunnel under LA almost done! Pending final regulatory approvals, we will be offering free rides to the public in a few months. Super huge thanks to everyone that helped with this project. Strong support from public, elected officials & regulators is critical to success. As mentioned in prior posts, once fully operational (demo system rides will be free), the system will always give priority to pods for pedestrians & cyclists for less than the cost of a bus ticket.
Musk says “we will be offering free rides to the public in a few months,” but only if regulators agree. Such rides would presumably involve rolling down the tunnel’s track on the pods that would eventually become part of the Boring Company’s transit system, with priority given to pedestrians and bicyclists.
Musk’s reference to the support needed from the public, elected officials and regulators may serve to explain why he’s bringing up the subject now.
In last month’s report, the Los Angeles Times quoted experts as saying the Boring Company’s tunnel exemption could be challenged in court, particularly if it’s seen as interfering with L.A.’s mass-transit plans. Musk may be counting on his huge fan base to help with the tricky task of getting the tunnel cleared for takeoff.
If this initial tunnel is a hit, that may help Musk build momentum for bigger projects, such as tunnels between downtown Chicago and O’Hare International Airport, between Washington and New York, and between Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay area.
Musk alluded to those projects in a follow-up tweet:
Already started DC to NY route.
Hopefully start LA to SF next year. That will be true @Hyperloop w pressurized pods in near vacuum tunnels & faster than jetliner.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 11, 2018
So far, much of the funding for the Boring Company has come from Musk and the company employees who joined last month’s $112.5 million investment round. Eventually, revenue will have to start flowing in from pod fares, plus sales of logo hats, bricks made from dug-up rocks and dirt, flamethrowers and other novelties.
As for those flamethrowers — or “not-a-flamethrowers,” if regulators are asking — there are signs that the Boring Company is closer to shipping those 20,000 items. The terms and conditions for the sales (at $500 apiece) are popping up on Twitter and Reddit, with a poetic touch worthy of Dr. Seuss:
The Boring Company's Not-A-Flamethrower terms and conditions are interesting. pic.twitter.com/BmeicoseDW
— Matthew Panzarino (@panzer) May 10, 2018
The posted documents indicate that buyers have to agree to the terms and conditions by May 24, and that the not-a-flamethrowers will start shipping this summer, “just in time to liven up any party.” So brace yourselves: This Fourth of July could be a hot one.