Vegas Loop expansion: County approves plan to build 69 underground stations

The project will be fully financed by the company.
Ameya Paleja
A underground tunnel dug by TBC and a Tesla vehicle therein
A underground tunnel dug by TBC and a Tesla vehicle therein

Clark County Nevada/ Twitter 

Elon Musk's The Boring Company (TBC) has been permitted by Clark County, Nevada, to expand the Vegas Loop underground transportation system to 69 stations. TBC will now need to create a tunnel network of 65 miles, more than twice its previously proposed plan of 29 miles.

TBC was born out of Musk's frustration with vehicular traffic on the streets of Los Angeles in 2016. The Tesla and SpaceX CEO proposed building underground tunnels where levitating pods would ferry passengers inside pneumatic tubes at up to 720 miles (1,158 km) per hour.

Musk proposed this idea to multiple cities in the U.S., and many showed interest. More than six years later, though, Musk has only one functional transportation system to showcase, the Vegas Loop.

The Vegas Loop expansion

When originally proposed, Las Vegas Loop consisted of 51 stations and needed a tunnel network of 29 miles (46 km). After years of tunneling, currently, the service runs only within a length of 2.2 miles connecting the Las Vegas Convention Center with Resorts World, practically a tenth of the original plan.

Nevertheless, Clark County, Nevada commissioners have approved an expansion for the project to add another 18 stations to the Loop, which requires tunneling of additional 25 miles (40 km). The approval came with a 6-1 vote in favor of the project after TBC's lawyer Stephanie Allen assured that the company would entirely bear the construction expenditure.

Vegas Loop expansion: County approves plan to build 69 underground stations
The extended Las Vegas Loop

Among the new stations proposed is Las Vegas Boulevard near the airport, Chinatown, the University of Nevada Las Vegas, Town Square Las Vegas, and Harmon Square, Tech Crunch said in its report.

The one vote against the project came from Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick, who was concerned that the project was aimed at tourists and did not consider the needs of casinos and resort employees who also need to travel to these destinations for work, mainly due to TBC's construction activity.

Allen said that the company plans to further expand the network into the residential areas located north, west, and east of the strip. However, there is much more that TBC needs to do if Musk's plan to decongest the roads with an underground system becomes a reality.

Currently, the Vegas Loop uses Tesla electric vehicles to ferry people around in the tunnels, which is not very different from the above-the-ground system. Even as TBC boasts of transporting a million passengers, it has ferried 1,200 passengers an hour. When proposed, the Vegas Loop was suggested to move 4,400 people an hour, The Verge said in its report.

Musk and TBC have their task cut out for themselves because even if the network expands, people will not prefer to sit in dark tunnels and move around at 30mph in Tesla cars unless the transit speed improves.

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