The idea of digging a whole network of small tunnels under a city so electric cars and passenger carrying pods can travel along them at speeds of over 200kmh may seem like far-fetched science fiction, but when it comes from Elon Musk, it deserves some attention. Could this be the future of public transport?
Elon Musks’s latest idea involves tunnels and electric cars
The serial inventor and entrepreneur behind Tesla and SpaceX last December tweeted how fed up he was with traffic in Los Angeles, where he spends a lot of his time, and that he would buy a tunnel boring machine and start digging. But what some people thought was nothing but a joke by a stressed businessman tired of losing time while driving, turned out to be anything but.
His latest project, called The Boring Company, has just completed a test tunnel that is “a few hundred feet long”, according to Musk. The concept behind this underground travel system is explained in a video the company posted. Watch below:
While this may seem similar to building a traditional subway train system, his newest company is quick to point out that there are significant differences. For starters, the way he proposes to build tunnels will be vastly cheaper than traditional projects, where costs can reach $1 billion(!) per mile. By boring smaller diameter tunnels and using faster machines, he is hoping to reduce the costs significantly while allowing quicker completion.
Then, of course, there is the idea of allowing cars to use the network, which is planned to be done by strapping them onto electric skates and letting them whizz through the network alongside passenger and bike carrying pods based on the same idea. It seems the system will also be able to make do without complex underground stations, instead using elevators to get passengers and vehicles on and off the network, reducing costs even further.
How a passenger pod may look
All of this may look far fetched right now, but Musk has a track record of getting things done. He is already in talks with the mayor of LA and the U.S. government to see how it can be turned into a reality. According to him, getting the permits to build his tunnels will be harder than digging the network itself. Such a system of smaller and cheaper tunnels could be very suitable for crowded cities like Manila, where high costs and lack of space often make large infrastructure projects difficult to complete. While Manila is now en route to getting its own subway, this is still years away and one would hope that the local powers-that-be are keeping a close eye on the activities of the Boring Company. It may just be the public transport solution we need.
Do you think this public transport system is possible for Metro Manila? Share your thoughts in the comments!