Elon Musk’s ambitious vision of underground transportation is taking a significant step forward with the approval of an expanded 68-mile (109 km) tunnel network for the Vegas Loop, the operational embodiment of his groundbreaking idea. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority’s recent greenlight for this extensive expansion marks a milestone in urban transportation innovation.
The concept of the Vegas Loop emerged in 2016 when Elon Musk found himself stuck in traffic and mused about the potential benefits of an underground transit system. This idea led to the birth of The Boring Company (TBC), tasked with digging intricate tunnel networks to alleviate traffic congestion. While Musk initially proposed the use of high-speed magnetic levitation trains for these tunnels, practicality steered the project toward utilizing electric vehicles from his other venture, Tesla, for passenger transport.
The Vegas Loop’s journey began with the approval of $48.6 million to construct a 2.2-mile (3.5 km) loop beneath the Las Vegas Convention Center. This initial stretch opened to the public in 2021 and has since served over 1.15 million passengers through its three stations. The success of this initial phase paved the way for a more extensive expansion.
The Boring Company aims to extend the Loop’s reach into downtown Las Vegas and beyond. The neighboring Clark County has already granted approvals for an 18-station extension, highlighting the potential of this transportation revolution. The Loop’s expansion will occur in phases, creating a seamless network that enhances connectivity throughout the city.
With the recent unanimous approval from the Las Vegas City Council, the Loop is set to expand within the city limits, adding 21 stations, predominantly situated downtown. These stations will cater not only to tourists but also to the local workforce, addressing accessibility concerns.
However, amidst the excitement, there remains an air of uncertainty. Mayor Carolyn Goodman expressed reservations about the project’s realization, despite voting in favor of its extension. Criticism has emerged about the capacity of the Loop to address accessibility challenges, particularly due to its limited passenger capacity.
As the journey to realize Musk’s vision continues, the expansion of the Vegas Loop signifies a significant step toward revolutionizing urban transportation. While challenges and uncertainties persist, the commitment to innovation and progress shines through. The underground transit system may soon become a hallmark of Las Vegas, showcasing the potential for innovative solutions to transform the way we navigate our cities.