Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the selection of the boring Elon Musk Company to build and operate a multi-million dollar rapid transit link between O & # 39; Hare International Airport and the downtown area.
The company plans to transport passengers between O & # 39; Hare and Block 37 on the Loop in approximately 12 minutes each way, normally a 40-minute trip on the Blue Line of the city, using electric vehicles passing through new underground twin tunnels. The project will be financed in its entirety by the company without subsidies from taxpayers.
But it is not clear if he will have to sell more flamethrowers to raise funds: according to the agreement, Musk would face the construction costs and then he would pocket all the revenues of the transit fees of the system and any money generated by advertisements, including sales of purchases in the automobile. In other words, Musk intends to finance a massive infrastructure project partly with money from people who buy things like headphones during a 12-minute trip (most likely using touch screens for vehicles). The sources tell the Chicago Tribune that the entire project should cost less than $ 1 billion.
"If we look at the history of Chicago … every time we have been an innovator in transportation, we have taken advantage of the future" , said Emanuel in an interview with Tribune on Wednesday. "I believe that discovering – when time is money – how to reduce the distance between O & # 39; Hare's economic and work engines and the city center positions Chicago as a global leader and a global city in the United States."
It is an important boost to Musk's quixotic tunnel project, and the strongest validation of a city government to date. The Boring Company, which launched just 18 months ago, is still negotiating the rights to dig a 6.5-mile test tunnel under Los Angeles, and has received preliminary permission to start digging in Washington, DC. The company has already started a two-mile test tunnel under the parking lot of SpaceX, another of the Musk companies.
Emanuel's office selected the Boring Company on O & # 39; Hare Xpress, a joint venture of Meridiam, Antarctica Capital, and JLC Infrastructure, an infrastructure fund backed by former basketball star Earvin "Magic" Johnson . The city will now begin one-on-one contract negotiations with The Boring Company, after which the agreement will be presented to the City Council.
In March, Musk said he was changing the Bored Company's focus from electric cars running on rollerblades through tunnels to something more like public transportation. On Twitter, he posted a video of futuristic-looking subway cars that could apparently carry a dozen passengers moving along an electric lane. These vehicles would be based on the chassis of a modified Tesla X model.
Emanuel's office provided some more details about what is expected of the boring company.
Each vehicle will carry up to 16 passengers, plus their luggage, and will depart from O'Hare and Block 37 with a frequency every 30 seconds. The Boring Company plans to charge rates below the requirement [request for proposals] that this premium service should cost less than current taxi and carpool services. The company plans to use the unfinished underground transit station in Block 37 and create a new station in O & # 39; Hare. The planned route travels in a straight line to the northwest from the center following the alignments of the public road. The specific alignment will be finalized during the negotiation of the contract.
Now the question that surrounds the boring Company will go from "where" to "how". Musk held a meeting at City Hall in LA, where he established several markers: tickets would be as low as $ 1 per person; the earth removed from the subsoil would be reused and sold as Lego-type bricks; And he hopes to start offering free rides through his test tunnel in Los Angeles later this year.
What the Chicago project will not include, most likely, will be the hyperloop. Musk has said he hopes to connect New York City with Washington, DC, through the supersonic transportation system, and has received tactical approval of the project from the Trump administration. Of course, transportation experts question whether the tunnels are really a response to the dilemma of traffic congestion and excess capacity, in addition to questioning Musk's claims that he can dig tunnels faster and at a fraction of the cost of technology. Traditional drilling.