The heart of tech is coming to the heart of the Mediterranean. Join TNW in València this March 🇪🇸

This article was published on October 21, 2021

I asked for a hyperloop but all I got was a Boring tunnel in Las Vegas

The Boring Company promised a hyperloop but delivers cars in a tunnel

I asked for a hyperloop but all I got was a Boring tunnel in Las Vegas
Cate Lawrence
Story by

Cate Lawrence

Cate Lawrence is an Australian tech journo living in Berlin. She focuses on all things mobility: ebikes, autonomous vehicles, VTOL, smart ci Cate Lawrence is an Australian tech journo living in Berlin. She focuses on all things mobility: ebikes, autonomous vehicles, VTOL, smart cities, and the future of alternative energy sources like electric batteries, solar, and hydrogen.

If you’re waiting with bated breath to ride a hyperloop, prepare to turn blue. I’m sorry, but it’s not going to happen anytime soon. But you might just be able to get a very poor second, a car ride in a tunnel. It’s courtesy of Elon Musk’s Boring Company, and if you are feeling underwhelmed, you’re not alone.

Tunnels under the city of Las Vegas 

This week The Boring Company won approval from local officials to build a 51 station network of vehicle tunnels under the city of Las Vegas. Spanning 46km (29 miles) system will allow passengers to travel by tunnel between casinos, the new football stadium, the Las Vegas Convention Center, and McCarran International Airport. 

In May 2019, the company landed a $48.7 million contract to design and construct a Loop system for the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC). Walking between the New Exhibit Hall and North/Central Hall can take up to 15 minutes. Using the tunnel takes only one minute, even if it’s not that exciting. 

So how much for a Boring ride? 

The Boring Company has put ticket prices somewhere between public transport and ride-hailing, with a five-minute ride between the airport and the convention center at about $10. A four-minute between the football stadium and the Convention Center is estimated to cost $6.

We were promised a hyperloop, not a Boring tunnel 

Let’s be very clear. The word hyperloop is largely absent from the conversation. We’ve been promised hydraulic propulsion in a pod through a tube at lightning speed. However, the reality is a lift in a Tesla, and not even an autonomous one at that. It’s hardly earth-shattering.

Talk about an appalling advert for rapid people moving at scale. A Tesla ain’t no bus, and it’s gonna take an awfully large amount of Teslas to ferry four people at a pop. Then, there’s the problem if a Tesla bricks itself in a tunnel. 

And, a Tesla?! A train or even a platoon of electric, autonomous buses could move over 50 people in a minute. 

However, it’s worth stressing that tunnels are on The Boring Company’s dime — not the taxpayer — asking hotel-casinos to chip in for the costs. Last year Resorts World was granted permission to construct a passenger station and underground tunnel connecting it to the LVCC. 

Let’s roll the dice in the tunnel! 

But why stop there? Casinos already deploy techniques like an absence of clocks and windows, to enable people to lose track of time and gamble for longer hours. You’ll be in a freaking tube. How about some casino tables? A quick game of Uno? Wedding in a tunnel? Elvis wedding in a tunnel? 

However, before people get too hoity-toity, don’t forget Las Vegas is the place of drive-through weddings, freaking fake Egyptian pyramids, and plans for a   moon-themed resort. Tacky is a-ok. 

Then, there’s the real elephant in the room that makes me question the whole plan — The Las Vegas monorail. 

Monorail! Monorail! Monorail! 

The Las Vegas Monorail
Move over Boring Company, Las Vegas has a Monorail

You read right, Las Vegas has a freaking monorail. 

The driverless (take that Elon!) Las Vegas Monorail system is owned by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA). it covers a 6.4km (4-mile) route. A single trip costs $5. When I click on the site, the featured article is “Best Hangover Cures in Las Vegas”. You are my spirit animal, monorail. 

And it’s kinda green. According to the company:

In just one year, the Las Vegas Monorail is responsible for removing the equivalent of 23 black rhinoceros of these types of emissions.

I know nothing about black rhinos, but I’m going to say that’s a lot of gas…

But can tunnels coexist with the monorail? Las Vegas Monorail has already raised concerns with The Boring Company about tunnels being too close to monorail support posts — and if a monorail crashed into a tunnel, it would be a world of pain, my friends. 

Do we actually need a Las Vegas Tunnel? 

So, tell me again why we need a tunnel, when there’s already a monorail?! I know what I’d prefer to use to ferry me from the airport to the LVCC. But, I guess it all comes down to money. No city will turn down free infrastructure when someone else is paying.

Building a Boring Company tunnel
Credit: Elon Musk / Twitter
A Boring Tunnel under construction.

But, we can expect to hear more from The Boring Company soon as other tunnel-building plans are accelerating. This month the city of Fort Lauderdale commissioners voted 4-1 to start working with The Boring Company to build tunnels between the downtown area and the beach. It’s interesting considering that plans to tunnel through Chicago and Los Angeles failed. 

What we do know is that the CES conferences of the future are going to be insufferable, with a zillion journalists stuffing those tunnels. You might be taking the monorail after all…

Get the Shift newsletter

Get the most important mobility news in your inbox each week.

Also tagged with