'It’s a Car in a Very Small Tunnel': Actual Transportation Professionals Unimpressed With Musk's Boring Company

Illustration for article titled 'It’s a Car in a Very Small Tunnel': Actual Transportation Professionals Unimpressed With Musk's Boring Company
Photo: AP

At the behest of their board, who apparently didn’t want to discuss billion-dollar train tunnels without exploring other options, top Virginia transportation officials went to California to ride in The Boring Company’s silly car tunnel.


See, as the Virginia Mercury reports, the Commonwealth Transportation Board has been discussing improvements to the state’s rail infrastructure, including a $1.3 billion bridge between Virginia and Washington D.C. At the same time, they wondered—would those improvements be pointless if Musk’s tunnel system became the Next Big Thing.

So here is what they determined when they went to California:

“It’s a car in a very small tunnel,” Michael McLaughlin, Virginia’s chief of rail transportation, told members of the Commonwealth Transportation Board’s public transit subcommittee on Wednesday.

It’s a car in a very small tunnel is both a rote, factually accurate description of what the tunnel is and also one of the sickest burns of the entire Boring Company hubris to date.

As is this:

“If one day we decide it’s feasible, we’ll obviously come back to you.”

But wait, there is more:

“I think there’s a lot of show going on here,” said Scott Kasprowicz, a Commonwealth Transportation Board member who made the trip with McLaughlin and public transit chief Jennifer Mitchell.

“I don’t mean to suggest that they don’t have a serious plan in mind, but I don’t consider the steps they’ve taken to date to be substantive. They’ve purchased a used boring machine. They’ve put a bore in the neighborhood where they developed the SpaceX product, and they’ve taken a Model 3 and put guidewheels on it and they’re running it through the tunnel at 60 miles per hour.

“None of that, I think, is really significant from a standpoint of moving this process forward.”


Again, these officials are doing nothing more than simply reporting back to the board, in the blandest possible manner, what The Boring Company has built. Merely reciting basic facts makes it sound no better, and in many ways significantly worse, than what already exists. It’s almost as if the entire theory of The Boring Company is to assume away all the actually expensive and time-consuming parts of major public works projects like environmental reviews and labor costs.

After Los Angeles and Chicago and even the New York/New Jersey Port Authority seemed to be at the very least sampling The Boring Company Kool Aid, it’s so damn refreshing to hear someone approach the hype machine with at least a little bit of healthy skepticism.

Former Senior Reporter, Investigations & Technology, Jalopnik



Hot take: Those transit agency employees are idiots.

The reason that Musk’s idea would work is assuming if cars are queued by computer (aka autopilot). The reason subways are not working is because trains break down and that one snag throws the whole system into chaos.

If these tunnels are being used by cars that are a) computer controlled and b) have low probability of breaking down (electric vs ICE), then there should be no delays within the tunnel system.