Elon Musk's Boring Company finishes digging tunnels in Las Vegas
The Convention and Visitors Authority of the town also plans to open the 'Loop' in January 2021
Elon Musk's Boring Company has completed the digging of a second tunnel under the Las Vegas Convention Center, marking the end of the first phase of the $52.5 million projects to construct a "people-mover" system for shuttling visitors from one side of the venue to another. In February the first of the two tunnels was completed.
Workers will now turn their attention to completing the passenger stations above ground at either end of the tunnels, as well as a third underground station in the middle of the system. The people-mover, which is officially named the Convention Center Loop, is also expected to be open to the public in time for the next Consumer Electronics Show in January 2021 — that is, if CES happens.
Following only a test tunnel next to SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, the people mover will be the first commercial transport project in operation by The Boring Company.
CONSTRUCTION HAS NOT BEEN AFFECTED BY THE PANDEMIC
The Loop will be able to push more than 4,000 people an hour in a number of Tesla vehicles through the tunnels, taking a cross-campus walk that usually takes at least 15 minutes and transforming it into a less than two minute journey.
According to Steve Hill, CEO and president of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, who spoke to The Verge this week, the Loop will pack those passengers into Model 3s, Model Xs and a "tram" built on the Model 3 platform that can accommodate between 12 and 16 passengers. He runs the convention centre through his organization.
Those vehicles will eventually autonomously zip through the tunnels, but they will begin with drivers, Hill said. After that, the vehicles will follow "conduit" and sensors laid in the tunnels — so they will appear to be autonomous but will not actually drive themselves. "Once we get to the point where we know [it's safe to let the vehicles drive themselves]," Hill said, "that's when we are going to take that step. Yet there is no deadline to do so.'
THE LOOP IS AN “AMENITY” FOR THE CONVENTION CENTER, NOT A PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION OPTION
Hill has also said that the novel coronavirus pandemic has not affected the project so far. But if the 2021 Consumer Electronics show is cancelled or postponed, Hill said the LVCVA and The Boring Business will wait until the next possible trade show to open up the Loop to the public.(While he says "might there be a car or two available if necessary" to transfer "LVCVA employees from one end of the campus" meanwhile.)
The Loop isn't even planned to function as public transport. Instead, says Hill, it's a luxury for convention-goers, and prospective customers. It will also be delivered as a free service, meaning that the LVCVA finds the $52.5 million it has spent on the project so far — $48.6 million of which has gone to The Boring Business — a sunken expense, Hill says.
“It’s here for the benefit of the [trade] shows, so it’ll ramp up capability while [they’re] here,” he said. “Between those times, it’ll ramp way back down to a car or two available if somebody needs one.”
Hill said the LVCVA and The Boring Company will use the time between finishing the tunnels and opening up the technology to the public. ("We will definitely not make show attendants part of the evaluation process," he said.) Preferably, Hill said the LVCVA would eventually find a way to use the technology of The Boring Business to help other transport options in Las Vegas Area.
“We’ve got a growing city and growing tourism base and we need all the options that are reasonably available in order to move folks, so we think all of those different options are important to maintaining,” he said. “And this is just going to be one more really fun one to add to the list.”