"Elon Musk is looking for a place to prove his technology works, and Chicago is rolling out the red carpet for him", said Joe Schwieterman, director of the Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development at DePaul University in Chicago.
The plan for the "Chicago Express Loop, " announced early Thursday by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Musk's tunneling firm, calls for the construction of an underground tunnel with concrete tracks on which "skates" - individual vehicles built on a modified Tesla X chassis - would carry 8 to 16 passengers at between 125 to 150 miles per hour from one of the world's busiest airports underneath some of the country's most congested roads. No opening day for the Chicago Express Loop was offered.
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. It is unknown when the project will go online, but the concept has made some headway in major United States cities.
The system would take the form of an underground tunnel system, with electric-powered pods carrying up to 16 passengers on trips that take as little as 12 minutes (compared with the 40 minutes or more required for a $5 trip on Chicago's "L" trains). A new station would be built downtown to accommodate this express line.
The transport system Boring has proposed is called Loop, a slower version of the Hyperloop that's designed for shorter distances and doesn't require vacuum conditions. (This means there will be a Loop to The Loop-very cute, Chicago.) Unlike the Hyperloop idea, the tunnels will not be depressurized. If the Boring Company and Chicago reach a final deal, the project would be privately funded, but many other questions remain, because Loop has not been tested at scale.
Rivkin said the estimated fare will be $20 to $25 per ride, which is significantly less than a taxi ride to or from the airport. The Boring Company will fund the project in its entirety. The company has been digging under a SpaceX parking lot, while its application to dig a tunnel beneath Los Angeles and Culver City is caught up regulatory obstacles and legal challenges. After Thursday's announcement, the city will begin one-on-one contract negotiations with The Boring Company. But those two projects don't solve the biggest problem with major transportation infrastructure projects: navigating the politics and concerns of every jurisdiction and landowner between point A and point B.
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.