Elon Musk's Boring Company Wins Chicago High-Speed Transit Contract

Chicago cuts deal with Musk's Boring Company to whisk passengers to O'Hare Airport underground on high-speed electric vehicles

1 min read
Illustration of the Boring Company's rapid transit vehicle.
Illustration: Boring Company

On Thursday, the Chicago Infrastructure Trust, on behalf of the City of Chicago, announced that it was awarding Elon Musk’s Boring Company a contract to build a rapid-transit link between O’Hare Airport and downtown.

The trip currently takes about 40 minutes on public transportation; the Boring Company aims to cut that to 12 minutes, using electric shuttles—Musk calls them skates—to zip passengers through tunnels at 125 to 150 miles per hour, paying US $20 to $25 a ride—roughly half the price of a taxi or Uber. The Chicago Tribune reported that the entire project is expected to come in under $1 billion.

The goal of the project, according to the Boring Company’s web site, is “to alleviate soul-destroying traffic.”

Illustration of the Boring Company's rapid transit station.Illustration: Boring Company

Four companies had submitted competitive bids. The Boring Company was one of two finalists—the other two were eliminated because of questions regarding their “ability to deliver the critical project with no public subsidy,” according to the Sun Times.

Musk will front the construction funds in return for a share of the fees paid by passengers and advertising revenue.

It’s been a big month for the Boring Company. The company’s “Not-a-Flamethrower” flamethrowers, sold out in preorders, recently started landing in customers’ hands (just in time for California’s fire season).

More on what the Boring Company is up to here.

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We Need More Than Just Electric Vehicles

To decarbonize road transport we need to complement EVs with bikes, rail, city planning, and alternative energy

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China has more EVs than any other country—but it also gets most of its electricity from coal.

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EVs have finally come of age. The total cost of purchasing and driving one—the cost of ownership—has fallen nearly to parity with a typical gasoline-fueled car. Scientists and engineers have extended the range of EVs by cramming ever more energy into their batteries, and vehicle-charging networks have expanded in many countries. In the United States, for example, there are more than 49,000 public charging stations, and it is now possible to drive an EV from New York to California using public charging networks.

With all this, consumers and policymakers alike are hopeful that society will soon greatly reduce its carbon emissions by replacing today’s cars with electric vehicles. Indeed, adopting electric vehicles will go a long way in helping to improve environmental outcomes. But EVs come with important weaknesses, and so people shouldn’t count on them alone to do the job, even for the transportation sector.

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