Elon Musk has pulled it off once more. The Boring Company CEO has won a multi-billion dollar bid to construct a high-speed express train connecting downtown Chicago with the O’Hare International Airport. He managed to win against reputed civil engineering and infrastructure firms who were also involved in the bidding process.
Most people are familiar with Musk’s Hyperloop plans but the Chicago project is based on the Loop system which involves vehicles that have a 16-passenger capacity. These vehicles, which are called skates, can travel at speeds of 125 to 150 miles per hour, and will feature a cabin and luggage storage area.
The proposal expects the system to handle close to 2,000 passengers per direction per hour and to reduce travel time to under 15 minutes at a travel cost of up to $25, which would be cheaper than a cab. The final route of the system is not yet decided and no details were disclosed regarding the plans.
The Boring Co. expects the total cost of the project to be under $1 billion and this will be borne by the company alone as there will be no financing from the government. As the construction will be mostly in the underground, there will be no hindrance to public roads and any land needed on the surface will either be purchased or leased by the company. Boring is expected to get revenues from transit fees and advertisements. The details regarding this are yet to be finalized.
Musk won the contract beating some of the most reputed civil engineering and infrastructure firms
This project comes with plenty of concerns and skepticism. There is no clear indication of when the project will be completed or how much the total cost would be to finish it. This is because there are numerous environmental, safety and regulatory aspects that require lengthy and thorough reviews. Such processes are known to take their own time.
Another point to take into account is the technology itself. We can all agree that Musk has some grand plans but the practical aspects have not yet been proven beyond doubt. It is surprising that this project is being undertaken by a company that has less experience as a whole in the tunnel-building space. Recall that Boring’s hyperloop project is still in early stages and is facing plenty of issues of its own.
The Boring Company is still digging its first tunnel, its vehicles are yet to be tested and for all of Musk’s talk about increasing the speed of tunnel construction, that still remains one of his grand plans. Once everything is done and tested, how the entire system will fare under heavy public usage and what can be done in the event of any untoward incident remains unclear.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, however, has faith in Elon Musk. He believes Musk is the right guy for the job and he seems impressed enough by Musk’s work and future plans. Emanuel pointed to Musk’s success with Tesla (TSLA) and SpaceX and believes the ‘Iron Man’ CEO can replicate it here. It would be only fair to point out that Tesla is not exactly problem-free right now. The mayor believes there is nothing wrong in handing over the reins of this project to Musk as there is no financial risk involved in it. Well, haters can hate all they want, but Musk sure has some believers on his team.