Published: Fri, June 15, 2018
Markets | By Noel Gibbs

Elon Musk, Boring Company to negotiate with Chicago for Loop train system

Elon Musk, Boring Company to negotiate with Chicago for Loop train system

The City of Chicago has selected billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk's The Boring Company to build a high-speed underground commuter system from the Loop to O'Hare International Airport, one of the world's busiest, media reported on Wednesday.

The Boring Company says it would transport passengers "on autonomous electric skates traveling at 125-150 miles per hour", with each skate capable of carrying between 8 and 16 passengers.

Dubbed The Chicago Express Loop, the project would include The Boring Company completing the Block 37 superstation, and digging twin tunnels to O'Hare. Exact project costs and construction timelines will be negotiated with the contract.

Elon to the rescue: The city's deputy mayor, Bob Rivkin, actually name-checked Musk previous year when the city issued the request, saying "The RFQ is agnostic about whether this is a surface or sub-surface system".

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Musk and Chicago's mayor, Rahm Emanuel, are expected to announce the proposal on Thursday. That compares to the roughly 40 minutes it now takes to make it from O'Hare to the city via the Chicago Transportation Authority's Blue Line train. The mayor pointed out it will take longer to get through security at O'Hare than it will to get there.

"Bringing Chicago's economic engines closer together will keep the city on the cutting edge of progress, create thousands of good-paying jobs and strengthen our great city for future generations", Emanuel said in the news release. "This transformative project will help Chicago write the next chapter in our legacy of innovation and invention". Plenty of Blue Line passengers say they're on board.

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The Boring Company must pay for a new station at O'Hare and renovate a unopened transit "superstation" at Block 37, part of a shopping center near City Hall that was a vestige of an abandoned high-speed rail project.

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The deal comes about a month after Musk unveiled a plan to burrow a high-speed network of "personalized mass transit" tunnels under Los Angeles that he said could be built without disturbance or noise at the surface. Rivkin said he thinks a lengthy environmental impact statement will not be needed, but Boring's plans in L.A. have drawn some protests from environmental groups there.

"We have a person in Elon Musk who started an electric vehicle company from nothing, and started a space company from nothing, and he has proven that he doesn't like to fail", Emanuel said. Chicago is bearing no financial responsibility for the project, Emanuel said.

Musk has said he believes his Hyperloop concept could be the solution to traffic gridlock in Los Angeles, Chicago, and other major metropolitan areas. For almost all of its history, Tesla has put up losses while investing heavily in technology, manufacturing plants and an extensive car-charging network. "Almost like an autonomous, underground, multi-level vehicle system".

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