Elon Musk will offer free rides through a tunnel he bore below Hawthorne, a Los Angeles suburb, to test his new transportation system. In a series of tweets, Musk said the tunnel is nearly finished and will be inaugurated on the evening of December 10, followed by free rides for the public the day after.
The tunnel, which runs roughly two miles, has been described by the Tesla founder as a system in which vehicles or people pods move on electrically powered platforms, known as skates, at speeds of up to 155 mph. Musk hopes to build a tunnel that crosses western Los Angeles and another that connects a subway line to Dodger Stadium.
The tunnel’s location is not arbitrary. Hawthorne is the home SpaceX, a company founded by Musk in 2002 that aims to reduce space transportation costs and colonize Mars. According to the Boring Company, the firm building the tunnel in Hawthorne, the underpass travels north from below SpaceX’s headquarters. The December launch is meant to give the project a global projection and display its potential.
The goal of the Boring Company is to improve tunneling with quicker, more effective boring machines, and to minimize traffic on busy city streets. Cars, pedestrians and cyclists would be carried on electric-powered sleds at speeds of up to 150 mph to different locations across the city. The pods carrying vehicles and passengers would descend from street level through an elevator system, which might also connect to office buildings or private homes.
The sleds would be transported from a side tunnel to the main track, keeping all passengers continually moving. “This is a big difference compared to subways that stop at every stop, whether you’re getting off or not,” Musk said.
Though promising, Musk must now show the system, which hopes to minimize gridlock, works and assure regulators that it is safe and financially viable. So far, the Boring Company has been selected to submit a proposal for a high-speed, 18-mile tunnel between downtown Chicago and O’Hare International Airport. The company’s idea for a link between Dodger Stadium and a transportation hub in Los Angeles has also been favorably received by authorities.
If the demonstration in December is successful, Musk may just revolutionize transportation in cities, thereby increasing pedestrian and green areas.