Were media expectations for Elon Musk's Boring Company 'Loop' accurate?
Elon Musk’s Boring Company recently opened its first tunnel, the Convention Center Loop in Las Vegas, for a sneak preview to selected members of the media (the official opening will be at the fascinating World of Concrete convention in June).
Construction was completed in 2 years, at a cost of $52.5 million. Steve Hill, President of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, said that the fleet of vehicles serving the tunnel consists of 11 Tesla sedans, and will eventually be expanded to 60. Sometime in the future, higher-capacity vehicles may be introduced. “It seems that during a pandemic is not the time to be increasing capacity,” Hill said. He added that the Loop will eventually be extended to McCarran International Airport and Allegiant Stadium.
And what was the reaction of the ladies and gentlemen of the Fourth Estate who were invited to take the first rides? Mostly negative. The Las Vegas Review-Journal delivered a neutral review, and local TV station KVVU and CNBC presented videos. However, a host of other media outlets trashed the tunnel, kvetching that Elon promised us driverless vehicles using Autopilot, travelling at high speeds, but for the moment the cars are driven by boring old humans, at a plodding 35 mph. Some of the spoilsports also rolled their virtual eyes at the site’s abundance of colored lights.
Above: Elon Musk's Boring Company is currently building Tesla-powered Loop tunnels in Las Vegas (YouTube: CNBC Television)
The word “underwhelming” has been retired due to overuse, and so have plays on the “boring” name of the company. “Disneyesque” should be consigned to the same fate.
Pretty much everyone piled on, including pro-EV media. Techie site Gizmodo said the site featured “lots of colorful lights, and not much else,” and didn’t not say that “Las Vegas wasted $50 million on a stupid tunnel.” Treehugger’s Lloyd Alter wrote, “It still looks like a taxi in a tube to me, but I could be missing something.” Even Electrek, the go-to source for EV and Tesla news, said, “the experience is quite boring.”
Okay, the punchbowl-foulers do have a point—the new tunnel as it exists isn’t exactly a revolution in public transport. However, let’s put things in perspective here. It’s a pilot, okay? A beta release, if you will. How hard is it going to be for Tesla to implement Autopilot in this controlled environment, and increase the speed? Not very. Should it have done so without doing the kind of low-speed, cautious testing that it’s now doing? Of course not. Did Elon and company choose the scribblers of the media to take the first rides because they considered them expendable in case something went wrong? Could be...
As for the colored lights, lighten up, ye curmudgeons. This isn’t Wall Street, it’s Vegas! Nobody who comes to the Convention Center is expecting to ride in some dull airport-style people mover. If it doesn’t have flashing lights, it probably doesn’t belong in Vegas.
Love it or hate it, other Boring Co. tunnel projects are already in the pipeline for Las Vegas. Three other casino operators are reported to be negotiating for tunnels to link their properties with the Convention Center. Other projects are under consideration elsewhere in the country—the city of Miami is exploring the idea of constructing a tunnel beneath the Miami River to connect downtown with the Brickell Financial District.
Written by: Charles Morris