Elon Musk and Space X and Boring Company director Steve Davis talking about digging in Los Angeles.

Roger Cheng/CNET

Elon Musk finally shed pulled back the curtain on where The Boring Company is headed. And, well, it’s definitely not boring.

The billionaire entrepreneur on Thursday showed off his concept for the Loop, a “personalized mass transit” system that carries 16 people and travel at 150 miles per hour, which could get you from Downtown Los Angeles to Los Angeles International Airport in eight minutes in a vacuum tube. His projected fare for people would be only $1. He also said he envisions dozens to hundreds of small stations, about the size of a single or double car parking spot, to alleviate traffic at any one spot.

Musk also unveiled the project details, including 2.7 miles of tunnel that will run north to south parallel to the 405 freeway. It will be privately funded, and not utilized for public transportation. He spoke to a crowd of roughly 750 people crowding the pews of the Leo Baeck Temple in Los Angeles, which sits alongside the 405 freeway by the Getty Center.

His comments provide the most detail yet on what he wants to do with these vast underground tunnels after two years of teasing. Musk created the The Boring Company, which has spent the last year digging (or “boring”) underground tunnels in Los Angeles, to further his vision of creating a new form of transportation — and to get out of that nasty Los Angeles traffic he has famously complained about.

“It’s the only way we can think of to address the chronic traffic issues in major cities,” Musk said at the event. He added that over the 16 years he’s lived in Los Angeles, the 405 freeway “varied between the seventh and eight level of hell,” and noted the event had started late because of traffic.

Musk, the flamboyant tech executive who is a must-follow on Twitter, has said that the Boring Company takes up 2 to 3 percent of his time, essentially a hobby as he runs his other two — yes, two — companies, Tesla and Space X, tweeted a week ago that his first tunnel in Los Angeles is nearly completed.

These tunnels aren’t yet part of his grander idea of a cross-country “Hyperloop” system, which would ferry people or things in tubes traveling at airline speeds — but at a much lower cost. At least, not yet. Musk previously said that the Boring Company is involved in proposed Hyperloop projects, including one for the US east coast. After unveiling the idea of using pressurized capsules to fly through tubes at insane speeds in 2012, Musk initially let other startups run with the idea. But last year, Boring Company had gotten approval to build a Hyperloop between New York and Washington, DC, signaling his intentions.

Musk telegraphed that the Los Angeles tunnels would use a different approach. About an hour before the event began, he retweeted a tweet from Metro Los Angeles about work on its proof-of-concept tunnel under Sepulveda Boulevard. “We’ll be partners moving forward,” the statement said. At the event, Musk reiterated that he was working with the city and was excited to complement the city’s metro system.

The idea is that The Boring Company would take method and model of tunneling in Los Angeles and eventually bringing it to other major cities with traffic issues. “If you can build a tunnel in LA, you can build it anywhere,” he said.

The Boring Company held an event in Los Angeles on Thursday.


Screenshot by Eric Mack/CNET

In March, he teased an animation of people riding in sleek minibuses running on rails through the underground tunnels. He played the video again on Thursday. There had also been suggestions that pedestrians, bikes and public transit will get priority access to the system

Musk kicked off the event by noting that flying cars wouldn’t work, throwing a bit of shade at Uber. He cited the advantages of an underground transportation system, including the fact that it’s weatherproof, and you can create more lanes if you want. “Highways are at the outer limit of their capacity… for tunnels you can have hundreds of lanes, there’s no real limits,” he said.

He also talked about the improvement to the actual boring, from continuous mining to tripling the power of the machines themselves, as well as ways to decrease cost.

Likewise, he stressed this would be a safe project, and that the community wouldn’t hear any of the tunneling below. He answered questions like how safe it would be in an earthquake (it’s fine).

The Boring Company, the much, much smaller sibling to Musk’s other companies, has resorted to some unorthodox merchandise for funding. The company raised $7.5 million selling $500 flamethrowers bearing the company logo (they’re supposed to arrive in the spring). Musk also teased plans to sell large Lego-like bricks made from bored rocks.

“They’re really good bricks,” he said, eliciting laughter from a crowd that wasn’t quite sure he was serious.

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