Published: Fri, June 15, 2018
Finance | By Loren Pratt

Elon Musk’s Boring Company gets Chicago airport loop contract

Elon Musk’s Boring Company gets Chicago airport loop contract

The Chicago Infrastructure Trust, acting on behalf of the City of Chicago, chose the Boring Company's proposal for the Chicago Express Loop service from downtown Chicago to Terminals 1 - 3 at the city's O'Hare Airport - where almost 80 million passengers boarded or disembarked at the IL airport in 2017.

The company has stated that its electric pods would travel at 125-150 miles per hour.

The skates will travel at up to 150mph and take 12 minutes end to end at an estimated cost of $20 to $25 per ride, according to the Chicago Tribune. If Chicago goes down this road, it needs to be prepared to say "no" if Musk comes back in a few years and asks for money. That compares to the roughly 40 minutes it now takes to make it from O'Hare to the city via the Chicago Transportation Authority's Blue Line train. Experts have raised concerns over the financial viability of Loop transportation systems, as well as potential environmental and legal challenges. The Boring Company will fund the project in its entirety.

The big news was followed by a big question: Can another company founded by Elon Musk do something never done with technology not yet tested on a scale not attempted before? And Boring's technology is good enough that officials in Los Angeles and Baltimore recently have signed off on initial projects that could lead to much bigger efforts, such as a vacuum tube "hyperloop" from Baltimore to Washington, D.C., and eventually NY.

Musk is banking on being able to tunnel much faster than any other company, although his technology remains unproven.

The low capacity would stem from the small size of the vehicles, which would carry just 16 passengers each.

Terms of the deal are still being negotiated, but Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office said the project would use Musk's still experimental tunneling concept and so-called Hyperloop transportation technology to connect O'Hare to the long dormant Block 37 superstation started under Mayor Richard M. Daley.

"Given his track record, we are taking his reputation and saying, "This is a guy in two other transportation modes who has not failed".

The vehicles, which the company calls "electric skates", operate on platforms adapted from the Tesla Model X.

The Boring Company must pay for a new station at O'Hare and renovate a unopened transit "superstation" at Block 37, part of a shopping center near City Hall that was a vestige of an abandoned high-speed rail project.

According to published reports, The Boring Co. has estimated the project would cost less than $1 billion.

This comes about a month after Musk announced a plan for a high-speed network of "personalized mass transit tunnels" under Los Angeles. "Almost like an autonomous, underground, multi-level vehicle system".

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