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Elon Musk’s Boring Company gets Chicago airport loop contract

15 June 2018
Elon Musk’s Boring Company gets Chicago airport loop contract

Call it a big win for Elon Musk.

In a bold bet that new technology can deliver a long-time City Hall goal, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration has selected tech magnate Elon Musk's Boring Company to build and operate a super-express transit system between downtown and O'Hare International Airport. Loop aims to shuttle passengers between downtown Chicago and O'Hare International Airport in 12 minutes, at speeds of more than 100 mph, with an estimated trip cost of $20 to $25 per ride, the Chicago Tribune reported. Yahoo Finance's Stephanie Sy, Dion Rabouin and Ethan Wolff-Mann discuss.

Musk is banking on being able to tunnel much faster than any other company, although his technology remains unproven. But insiders say its plan ran into the same problems as the previous Blue Line proposals: cost (likely in the billions of dollars) and the length of time a trip would take. A new station would be built downtown to accommodate this express line. Loop's novel underground transportation system must adapt electric transport technology developed at Tesla to subterranean applications.

The skates would travel through underground tunnels, and could carry as many as 16 passengers at speeds of up to 150 miles per hour. The tunnels may end up belonging to the city, with a long-term lease assigned to Musk's company. The planned route travels straight northwest from downtown following public way alignments.

Mayoral spokesman Grant Klinzman told GeekWire in a tweet that the Boring Company won the bid. While where is no official timeline for the project or an estimated cost, the Tribune cited a source who estimated price as less than $1 billion. The company said the price for riders will be about half that of an Uber or taxi, which are now around $40 per fare.

The mayor's office said the project would be funded entirely by Musk's company, with no taxpayer funding.

If all goes well in the contract-negotiation process, The Boring Company's selection by the city of Chicago is the most significant stepping stone for the company to date. So far, a test tunnel a few hundred feet has been dug in a parking lot, and the company is trying to get approval to dig a 2.7-mile test tunnel underneath LA.

"We think we have a terrific project that will be transformative to the city and make it stand out in the global economy", Deputy Mayor Robert Rivkin, who has been the city's point person on the project, said in a phone interview late today.

But in Chicago, the city will assist The Boring Company with all necessary permits, and there does seem to be some political will to have such a tunnel built within the city, and relatively quickly.