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What's Worse Than a Traffic Jam? A Traffic Jam in a Tunnel. Just Ask Musk About It

It may be easy to lose track of how many companies Elon Musk is running, but it's pretty hard to forget about the Boring Company. You may think that's because the tunnel-drilling outfit achieved something out of the ordinary, but you'd sadly be wrong.
Vegas Loop traffic jam 11 photos
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The most remarkable thing about the Boring Company so far is the fact it managed to sell a flamethrower to the public despite using one outside agricultural or construction purposes is illegal. How did it do it? Well, mostly by calling it "NOT-A-FLAMETHROWER" (cue laugh track sound effect).

Alright, so it sold a modern version of one of the most horrible weapons in human history, but what was the company actually meant to do? As the name suggests, its single raison d'etre was to dig. The fact it came about at a time when the Hyperloop was still being discussed meant a lot of people assumed it would dig the tunnels needed for the high-speed mass transit system.

However, with the Hyperloop hype dying down, Musk had to come up with something else, and that something was an alternative public transport solution involving autonomous Tesla vehicles that would avoid the congested traffic on the surface by ferrying people through a of network tunnels. If you think about it, this made even more sense for Musk since it involves its other company, Tesla, and it also puts an emphasis on the vehicles' claimed self-driving capabilities he's struggled so much to advertise.

The only such ecosystem that's currently in use can be found in Las Vegas, but it differs quite significantly from the original blueprint. For one thing, it's (still) pretty short at 1.7 miles. However, the most relevant distinction to the initial plan is the fact that all 62 Tesla Model 3s (number may vary) that swarm around the tunnel network are being operated by humans. To make matters worse, the cars can only do a top speed of 35 mph (56 km/h), which is hilariously identical to the top speed these cars would have been allowed on the public roads at the surface.

The Vegas Loop, as they call it, is basically nothing more than a very inefficient subway system that's cost the city officials way over $50 million. We're no tunnel-digging experts, but it's plain to see how using a rail system would make things a lot better: it would increase speed, passenger density, and, perhaps most importantly, reliability and safety.

Indeed, it doesn't take too much imagination to shudder at the thought of what would happen in case of a collision or, even worse, a fire. Of course, fires can happen (and have happened) in a classic subway configuration, but the main difference is that trains don't carry large batteries with them that are notoriously hard to put out once ignited.

Well, all fears and limitations aside, at least one thing is guaranteed with the Vegas Loop: it will have no traffic jams. Except it does. Come to think of it, it doesn't take much for that to happen - all you need is a few passengers who take too long getting in or out of the car and, coupled with the fact that human drivers can't know what's going on beyond the car in front of them so they could adjust their speed to leave a large enough gap, that's all it takes for the dreaded jams to show up. After all, a jam doesn't care whether it's above or underground.



 
 
 
 
 

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