Elon Musk competing to build downtown Chicago express 'transit loop'
- Elon Musk has announced that his Boring Company business will compete to finance and build an express transit system from downtown Chicago to O'Hare International Airport, according to Reuters.
- According to the city's Request for Qualifications, the winning bidder, also the concessionaire, must provide a minimum of two stations and a maintenance facility; travel time of no more than 20 minutes between downtown and the airport; a downtown terminal accessible to other transit systems and activity centers; and funding for all project costs, operation and maintenance. The concessionaire will also collect and keep fares.
- Musk said on Twitter the Loop system he has in mind would differ from the Hyperloop concept in that it would not draw a vacuum, a condition he deemed unnecessary for the short trip between the airport and downtown. He left the question of whether or not his proposed system would use rails up in the air.
Musk originally challenged researchers to try to develop an operable hyperloop system in 2013, but maintained that he had no favorite in the race and had no plans to support any of the competitors financially in the short-term. Given his recent activity in the express transportation space, it could be that he took that position because he planned on getting into the hyperloop game himself.
Musk announced in July that he had received verbal approval from the government to build an ultra-high-speed rail tunnel between New York City and Washington, DC. He said The Boring Company would do the work, and that the trip between the two cities, which would include stops in Philadelphia and Baltimore, would take only 29 minutes. At the time, officials from the cities along the proposed route said they had not been contacted about the plan, but USA Today reported that the White House and Musk had discussed such a project.
Although that project does not appear to have gained any traction since the first announcement — at least in the public arena — the Maryland Dept. of Transportation has given Musk and The Boring Company conditional approval to dig a hyperloop tunnel from Baltimore to Washington, DC.
District officials said they were waiting to learn more about the project. What is known about the tunnel so far is that the work will be done under a utility permit and that digging should start near Ft. Meade, MD. What is still unknown is pretty much everything else — schedule, costs, regulatory requirements and who will pay for it.
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