He created the Boring Company to pursue his transit vision. One of his projects, which features two one-mile-long tunnels in Las Vegas, was completed last month. When it opens for business in January 2021, little of the original vision will have materialized. Passengers will enter a Tesla—piloted by another human, rather than ferried by autonomous sleds—and be driven at a top speed of 35 miles per hour, according to Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority CEO Steve Hill.
The system will rely on Tesla Model 3s and Xs. A tram built on a Model 3 chassis that carries 12-16 passengers may be introduced later, according to Hill. He expects the vehicles will eventually drive autonomously, once they’re proven to be safe. Hill said he was not sure how long that would take.
The Boring Company and a representative for Musk did not respond to CNN Business requests for comment.
The recently-finished tunnels may eventually be expanded throughout greater Las Vegas, providing trips between casinos, resorts, residential neighborhoods, a sport stadium and the airport. Two resorts, Wynn Las Vegas and Resorts World Las Vegas, submitted expansion plans this month to local government for approval. Both are located about a mile from the Convention Center.
Construction could begin later this year, pending approval. Fares will be affordable, according to a spokeswoman for Resorts World Las Vegas, which is scheduled to open in summer 2021. No further details about the proposed expansion have been released.
Hill said that tickets would cost from $3 to $5, making them more expensive than a bus ticket. Single bus trips can be $3 or less in Las Vegas, and a monthly bus pass can be had for $65.
The Boring Company has released a map of how the Loop could be extended further, with 27 more stops in Las Vegas, and an extension to Los Angeles. That proposal has yet to leave the drawing board, however. So far it just appears to be a proposal with no sign-on from Las Vegas.
A McCarran International Airport spokesman said nothing formal is in the works for any new airport connections to the Strip or convention centers. Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman declined to comment for this story.
While the reality at this point doesn’t live up to Musk’s initial vision, Las Vegas leaders are excited about a potential expansion, which they see as a cost-effective way to improve local transportation.
“We’ve looked at subway systems, we’ve looked at monorails, we’ve looked at light rail,” Hill said. “It’s not because we haven’t thought of anything. It’s either we don’t have room for that or we can’t afford that.”
A monorail, for example, can cost $100 million a mile, he said. The Boring Company hasn’t requested public funding, and thinks it can dramatically reduce the costs of tunneling.
Meanwhile, besides Las Vegas, some of the Boring Company’s other Loop projects have slowly moved forward. If completed, they would operate at lower speeds, with a cap of 155 mph.
One example, its project between DC and Baltimore is under environmental review, according to a Federal Highway Administration spokesman. A federal government website that tracks the permitting of infrastructure projects has described the review as being completed by the end of 2019. The spokesman declined to say why the review appears to be delayed.
If the Boring Company is cleared to move ahead with the DC to New York Hyperloop project, the project’s curvy route south of Baltimore will make it technically unrealistic to maintain the high speeds Musk projected, according to Christian Claudel, a transportation engineering professor at the University of Texas-Austin who has advised students on a Hyperloop project. Given how sharp the curves are in a map of the project, the G forces would be too intense for even fighter pilots, he said.
But in Vegas, interest remains high to see what the Boring Company can pull off, if it expands.
“From my sense, it’s just a matter of time,” said Jeremy Aguero, a spokesman for the Las Vegas Stadium Authority Board. “The world of possibilities is significant for Southern Nevada and probably beyond.”