Elon Musk And His ‘Boring Company’ Have A Plan To Save Los Angeles From Its Traffic Congestion Nightmare (And Maybe The World?)

By Paul Maslany | June 7th, 2017

Elon Musks concept design for the sleds that will carry vehicles through tunnels beneath the City of Los Angeles at speeds as high as 124 mph.

Elon Musks concept design for the sleds that will carry vehicles through tunnels beneath the City of Los Angeles at speeds as high as 124 mph.

A lot of people, especially on the east coast, think of New York City when they picture wall to wall traffic in their mind. I always thought it was the worst place for traffic in the country, maybe even the world. Apparently, I was wrong. New York City may have once held that title, but today the worst traffic in the world belongs to Los Angeles. The City of Angels, where the Los Angeles Times reported that “Drivers in [their] region spent 104 hours each driving in congestion during peak travel periods last year.”

That same traffic scorecard by Inrix, a transportation analytics firm, also lists New York City at third, right behind Moscow, Russia.  Other U.S. cities on the list? San Francisco, Atlanta, and Miami.  The traffic problem in the U.S. isn’t just about population.  The brighter way to look at that scorecard is we have so many cities on it because so many people have a high enough quality of life to be able to afford cars for transportation in these larger cities.  

The main problem is population growth, it isn’t going to solve itself. How could it, with the U.S. population jumping 4.7% since 2010. That means in the past 7 years, we have gone from roughly 308 million people in the U.S. to over  323 million people.  

To make this easier to understand how our population and traffic congestion compare to other nations, let’s do a quick google search. According to Google, which appears to be pulling the information from the world bank, the entire country of Australia has a population of about 23.78 million as of 2015. That means that, to be specific, the Greater Los Angeles Area has a population of 18.68 million compared to 23.78 million Australians. That’s just one area in our nation, and its population is almost the size of Australia's!

Of course, the competition is more stiff from places like Mexico City. It didn’t make the list of most congested cities, but is largely considered to have the worst traffic in the world.  It may not be a ‘Congestion King’ like L.A., but it has been considered the world's most uninhabitable major city since 1975, and is one of the most polluted cities in the world. Certain days public transportation is free when the pollution gets too bad, the government tries anything to help reduce emissions in the Mexican capital.

It seems to be a huge problem, and regardless of how aware we are of climate change, it seems too late to stop the planets automobile dependency, let alone its complete dependence on fossil fuels for far more than just transportation. How can we solve our traffic issues, especially in places like Los Angeles? If you ask Elon Musk, he has the perfect idea, and fortunately it’s more realistic than ‘flying cars’.

Boring. No, it’s not boring, it’s actually very interesting. By ‘Boring’ I mean, Musk has started a company called Boring Company. You know... like, boring a hole in something? As in, boring tunnels underneath the entire city of Los Angeles?  

If you haven’t heard about this yet, it’s not fake news. I remember personally when this idea was first mentioned, and it was born from Musk complaining about LA traffic on Twitter. Musk tweeted on December 16th 2017 at 8:05 AM that “Traffic is driving me nuts. Am going to build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging…”

Inventer and Billionaire Elon Musk (center) listens to President Donald J. Trump (right) with the Presidential Advisor Steve Bannon (left) at his side.

Inventer and Billionaire Elon Musk (center) listens to President Donald J. Trump (right) with the Presidential Advisor Steve Bannon (left) at his side.

I heard about his rant, which was several tweets longer than the quote, on a podcast a day or two afterwards.  In a world where I can no longer be amazed (Presidential election, anyone? Whether you supported the Donald or not, his victory was unbelievable, literally!) I didn’t doubt his ability to do so.

Fast forward six months, and we have working concepts and the Boring Company is a real thing, check it out at www.boringcompany.com!

The best part is that the cars won’t even be driving through underground tunnels themselves. Cars are lowered from the street while parked on these platforms which also carry them as they shoot through the tunnels at up to 130 mph without needing to stop until arrival. This means that there could be a real reduction in LA pollution if this concept is implemented on a city wide scale, since the cars aren’t going to be on while in the tunnel.

It’s not just for drivers or car owners, with part of the concept being a type of subway car that people enter on the street, like a bus stop. They wait inside until departure where they’re lowered deep into the earth and blasted underground across the city over 100mph.

I’ve heard of concepts like this, and many similar ones, for new ways of travel to help accommodate environmental concerns, as well as population growth concerns.  What's great about this idea is that Musk could actually make it happen. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is implemented, even just the beginning stages of it, within 5 years.

So many concepts and ideas don’t come to fruition, and it’s not because the tech isn’t there. When the excuse is ‘funding’, it just means they don’t have enough government funding or private funding from outside sources. Usually the companies that design and build these projects have the financial means, they’re just not willing to put themselves out on a limb with a project of that size.

Elon Musk, Inventor, Billionaire, Businessman, and Space Pioneer?

Elon Musk, Inventor, Billionaire, Businessman, and Space Pioneer?

The great thing about when Musk’s ideas don’t come to fruitions or find success, it’s not for a lack of trying. He’s an inventor known to fund his own projects when necessary, and has a reputation for bleeding edge ideas as well as making things happen. This is the man who decided not just to be a pioneer for protecting the environment, but also to be a space pioneer as his back-up plan for global warming.

Thats right, the goal of his company SpaceX is to colonize Mars so we can avoid extinction as a species by having a multi-planetary residence.  He’s also known for his self-driving cars, artificial intelligence, and electric car company Tesla, among many, many other things. It can’t be that surprising that his answer for being frustrated with L.A. traffic is to build a city-wide tunnel system to bypass it, can it?

 

 

Sources

Belanger, Lydia. “Elon Musk Reveals His Next Idea As ‘The Boring Company’.” Entrepreneur. N/A. entrepreneur.com Web. 29 May 2017.

Burns, Janet. “Elon Musk Has Revealed Mock-Up Vehicles For His ‘Boring” Tunnels Under LA.” Forbes. 30 May 2017. forbes.com Web. 30 May 2017.

Associated Press, The. “No surprise here: Los Angeles is the world’s most traffic clogged city, study finds.” Los Angeles Times. 20 February 2017. latimes.com Web. 29 May 2017.

Population, total (All Countries and Economies). Data. The World Bank. Web. 1 June 2017. http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.POP.TOTL

Natanson, George. “Mexico City is the Most Uninhabitable City in the World.” Texas Monthly. September 1975. Texasmonthly.com. Web. 29 May 2017.