Vegas Loop greenlit for 68-mile underground tunnel network

Elon Musk's The Boring Company received Las Vegas Council's approval for a Loop expansion with 21 new stations.
Ameya Paleja
A file image of a Tesla inside the Vegas Loop
A file image of a Tesla inside the Vegas Loop.

Clark County Nevada/Twitter 

Vegas Loop, the only operational version of Elon Musk's visionary underground transportation solution, has now been approved to be expanded to a 68-mile (109 km) tunnel network, Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

The Loop came into being after billionaire Musk was caught in a traffic jam in 2016 and pondered if an underground transit system was better suited for large cities. He founded The Boring Company (TBC) to dig the tunnel network shortly thereafter and even proposed the use of magnetic levitation trains for high-speed transit inside these systems.

Musk's space venture, SpaceX, also organized competitions for the development of these high-speed trains, referred to as Hyperloop. But after many years, the train remains a concept and instead, electric cars from Musk's other company, Tesla, are utilized to transport passengers through the tunnels..

The Vegas Loop

Musk's original proposal garnered the attention of several city governments as they sought newer ways to alleviate rising concerns about vehicle congestion. But after promises of a high-speed transit system vaporized, the implementation of a tunnel network also took a back seat, except in Las Vegas.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority approved an expenditure of $48.6 million to build a 2.2-mile (3.5 km) loop underneath the convention center. The Vegas Loop opened to the public in 2021 and currently has three stations.

The facility is managed by TBC, which claims to have successfully transported 1.15 million passengers up to this point. Moreover, they are now aiming to extend the Loop further into the downtown region of the city and beyond.

Earlier in May, the neighboring Clark County, where the extended Loop will comprise 18 stations, gave the necessary approvals.

Under these terms, TBC will be responsible for financing the entire construction of the project in the region, with the commitment to expand it in the future to cater to the requirements of casino and resort employees, Interesting Engineering had reported.

Approvals in Las Vegas

On Wednesday, The Las Vegas City Council unanimously approved TBC's plans to expand the Loop in the city limits. This approval is set to increase the number of stations in city limits to 21, most of them located downtown.

According to the report, the expansion is set to occur in phases and will be connected to each other to ensure a seamless transportation experience. For this expansion, TBC will only shoulder tunneling costs while properties will pay for the construction of prospective stations.

Future visitors to Las Vegas City could expect Loop stations at City Hall, The Strat, Circa, Palace Station, Area 15, UNLV Medical District, Fremont Street Experience, and Main Street, the report added.

The exact commencement date of the work is currently uncertain, and nobody seems eager to provide a specific timeframe for it.

According to media reports, Mayor Carolyn Goodman expressed uncertainty about the project's realization, despite voting in favor of the extension. During the approval process, he also criticized the practice of transporting only a few individuals at a time through the tunnels, as it did not address the accessibility issue that he urgently required a solution for.

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