back to article Elon Musk invents bus stop, waits for applause, internet LOLs

Elon Musk's audacious plans are usually met with acclaim, and sometimes even awe – but not this time. Fresh details of The Boring Company's urban transport plans have been lambasted on social media. The Tesla and SpaceX founder gushed about "1000s of small stations the size of a single parking space that take you very close to …

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  1. John Styles

    Is there anything to his 'we can tunnel cheaper and quicker' stuff? How much money would that save anyway? Suppose you could magically tunnel between stations for essentially free, but not, obviously fit out the stations, build the escalators, find room for and build the surface parts of the station etc. what percentage of the cost of an underground system would this actually save? Not much I wouldn't have thought.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
      Holmes

      Fitting out

      Takes as much time as boring. Just look at Crossrail and you will see that for real.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        RE: Crossrail

        Also, crossrail took so long as there was SO MUCH STUFF under the street.

        If you want to be able to tunnel without care, you need to go at least 300m deep in London ? Maybe 500m ?

        1. ratfox Silver badge
          Stop

          Re: RE: Crossrail

          If NASA had had 3GHz onboard computers for Apollo and the shuttles they'd have been able to land a rocket upright too. Fact is, it's still just cheaper to ditch them in the ocean.

          Now here you are almost certainly wrong. The computers cost nothing compared to the engines.

          1. ArrZarr Silver badge

            Re: RE: Crossrail

            @LeeD

            I'm pretty certain that you don't need computers to land a booster upright as you can use this snazzy new tecnhology called a parachute along with some entertaining maths to figure out aerodynamic stability and how much parachute area is required to slow the booster sufficiently.

            No, the main reason that the US space program dropped stuff in the ocean is that the US isn't big enough from east to west, unlike Russia which did have ground landings.

          2. Wayland Bronze badge

            Re: RE: Crossrail

            "Now here you are almost certainly wrong. The computers cost nothing compared to the engines."

            Totally missing the point.

            It's not the cost of the computers it's that 3GHz computers can allow the rocket to land.

            If that's the case then how did they land on the moon?

            1. Roj Blake Silver badge

              Re: If that's the case then how did they land on the moon?

              By:

              a) Realising that the Moon's gravity is only a fifth of the Earth's.

              or

              b) Getting Stanley Kubrick to fake the whole thing.

              1. hplasm Silver badge
                Boffin

                Re: If that's the case then how did they land on the moon?

                "Realising that the Moon's gravity is only a fifth of the Earth's."

                Ahem!

        2. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: RE: Crossrail

          AC suggested, "...go at least 300m deep in London ? Maybe 500m ?"

          No. Famously all of London's Underground stations are precisely "15 stories" deep.

          If you're unfamiliar with this point, then look it up on YouTube where it is explained.

          1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: RE: Crossrail

            Me, "If you're unfamiliar with this point, then look it up on YouTube where it is explained."

            Notes inexplicable multiple down votes. Sighs...

            Drags horses to water, shoves their lengthy faces into it.

            Here. This.

            YouTube Title = "All Tube Stations Have Fifteen Floors"

            LINK = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pBTvmrRGlbE

            1. Stevie Silver badge

              Re: RE: Crossrail

              Downvotes because of link to 15 minutes of video to tell an unfunny joke, maybe?

              I didn't downvote but should have done.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: RE: Crossrail

              "Inexplicable downvotes"

              I watched the video, well some of the very long video you linked. Got bored after him walking up one or two hundred steps at a couple of stations. Couldn't be bothered to watch him do a third. You would have got less downvotes if you Rick Rolled us.

              1. J. R. Hartley Silver badge

                Re: RE: Crossrail

                The first rule of downvotes is that we don't talk about downvotes.

              2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

                Re: RE: Crossrail

                some of the very long video you linked

                "Very long"? At times I really wonder whether any of you kids has ever read a book.

                "I spent ten minutes on it - a veritable eternity!"

              3. hplasm Silver badge
                Facepalm

                Re: RE: Crossrail

                "...well some of the very long video you linked."

                TIL Fifteen minutes is very long time...

            3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

              Re: RE: Crossrail

              Drags horses to water, shoves their lengthy faces into it.

              You can lead a commentard to YouTube, but you can't make him upvote, apparently.

              But, hey, you got me to watch that video, just out of curiosity. And then a couple others, damn it. Now I will forever know that the least-used station in London is Angel Road.

              (When I were a lad, on my first visit to London, I climbed the stairs in Covent Garden. Because they were there.)

            4. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: RE: Crossrail

              well that's 15 minutes of my life I'm not getting back. To save anybody else the time: "Tube stations with a quite a different number of steps all have signage that warns that climbing them is equivalent to a 15 storey building." And no, you don't find out why.

          2. LDS Silver badge
            Joke

            look it up on YouTube

            I always wondered if YouTube was the London Underground video system...

          3. handleoclast Silver badge

            Re: RE: Crossrail

            @JeffyPoooh

            Sometimes, the commentards around here puzzle me. Why did you get so many downvotes? What you claimed is the truth. A rather bizarre and unbelievable truth, but true nonetheless (for strange values of "truth").

            Maybe you were downvoted for not providing a link. Here it is.

            Maybe you were downvoted by those who found the video, watched it, and were annoyed because it took a hell of a long time to prove its point and did so in an interminably rambling way. In which case I'll probably get downvoted too.

            Who knows? I certainly don't

            People, eh? You can't live with them. You can't chop them up with a chainsaw and flush them down the toilet. Well, you can, but eventually you get caught and imprisoned.

            1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
              Coat

              Re: RE: Crossrail

              @handleoclast : I'm gonna give you an upvote just for the funny little anecdote at the end :)

            2. David Nash Silver badge

              Re: RE: Crossrail

              @handleoclast

              He didn't claim the truth, he claimed all tube stations are equivalent to 15 floors which is clearly not the truth and the video proves it. The *joke* is that all tube stations are 15 floors.

              The video didn't need to be so long to show it, and the OP could have indicated that it was a joke rather than bluntly stating it as fact. Twice.

              Also it's not "famous".

            3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

              Re: RE: Crossrail

              You can't chop them up with a chainsaw and flush them down the toilet.

              This is a really bad idea if you're on a septic system. Even with city sewer you'll just end up contributing to some fatberg. Compost - that's the ticket. (I know pigs are the classic approach, but I already have one relative who was eaten by them, and that seems like enough.)

          4. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

            Re: RE: Crossrail

            "15 stories" deep."

            Eh? I guess you've never travelled on the Tube then? Some stations aren't even underground.

        3. katrinab Silver badge

          Re: RE: Crossrail

          "If you want to be able to tunnel without care, you need to go at least 300m deep in London ? Maybe 500m ?"

          It is pretty wet down there, and that would be a problem. Also, it would be a lot of stairs to climb in the event of an emergency evacuation, equivalent to a 15 floor building with 20m - 33m high ceilings [1].

          [1] Note: all tube stations in London, regardless of how deep they are, are equivalent to a 15 floor building - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pBTvmrRGlbE

        4. Ian Johnston Silver badge

          Re: RE: Crossrail

          If you want to be able to tunnel without care, you need to go at least 300m deep in London ? Maybe 500m ?

          London is a tangle because almost everything goes through a layer of clay about 150m thick. Below that you won't run into anything ... but you will be tunnelling through rock, which is much more difficult. Explosives, rather than TBMs.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Fitting out

        There was an item on local news here in the South West a few weeks ago on the plans for the A303 around Stonhenge ... the final section explained that even if the laest scheme got given immediatel go ahead it would take a couple of years for planning permissions etc before construction could start and then it would take "another 5 years to construct the tunnels planned in the scheme" ... and note that these tunnels would be in open countryside and not under cities where there are plenty of existing underground obstacles to have to avoid!

    2. Lee D Silver badge

      It's a load of nonsense anyway. Actually tunnelling under stuff isn't the expensive / controversial / time-consuming part.

      Things like "getting a licence to tunnel underneath thousands of banks, archaeological sites, rivers, sewers, skyscrapers, etc.", not disturbing anything en-route (that you haven't just shoved a drill through, obviously), subsidence and other movement, unknown geography and geology, criss-crossing dozens of other tunnels and services, etc.

      The actual BORING part is... well... relatively boring if everything else is planned out and tested beforehand. Getting people to give you a licence to tunnel underneath their city of skyscrapers and ancient ruins is actually rather more difficult. And you DON'T want people shortcutting the process just because they threw money at the problem that you don't have... the first skyscraper that tilts even an inch and causes an evacuation is going to shut your company down with lawsuits permanently (and wasn't Musk only saying the other day that both SpaceX and Tesla almost went bankrupt already?).

      Musk is full of bright ideas that though they may work if humans were new and never tried anything before are ridiculous when taken at face value in the modern world. His electric cars are the same as everything else, with bog-standard batteries. His factories don't scale. His production rates are miniature and cost the earth. His rockets are no different - nothing "new", just "current tech". If NASA had had 3GHz onboard computers for Apollo and the shuttles they'd have been able to land a rocket upright too. Fact is, it's still just cheaper to ditch them in the ocean. And even then, every single time one of them fails to land, doesn't it, Elon?

      Trains in a vacuum. Buses in a tunnel. Great sci-fi material. But absolutely ridiculous in a real world scenario that involves keeping thousands of miles of tunnel at vacuum pressure, or digging thousands of miles of tunnel underneath a modern city for a bus (if you were going to do that, you'd just add another subway line - hell, you could even automate it ala DLR and save yourself from driver strikes too).

      Musk thinks that throwing money at his favourite episode of Star Trek is worthwhile, when almost none of his "business" ventures actually produce a viable product (if you want your own private rocket, fine, but you're supposed to be operating a company) that isn't just bouyed up by his billions and gets almost nothing back in profit.

      Hey Musk, they had these things on Star Trek called communicators where you just press a button and say someone's name and you can talk to them if they have a communicator too... why don't you work on that?!

      (Don't get me wrong, if you want to invest in teleportation, shields, phasers, warp cores, then go ahead, I'll follow it with interest... but a tunnel under a city isn't new).

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Just look at what happened in Cologne in 2009...

        http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/cologne-archive-catastrophe-were-subway-builders-cautious-enough-a-612129.html

        Even after all the planning, they still managed to mess it up royally.

      2. LDS Silver badge

        "Fact is, it's still just cheaper to ditch them in the ocean"

        NASA only ditched one Shuttle in the ocean, and it was an incident, and not cheap at all. And it recovered the boosters as well - being solid fuel, no way to re-ignite them for landing.

        1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: "Fact is, it's still just cheaper to ditch them in the ocean"

          LDS suggested, "[Shuttles SRBs] ...being solid fuel, no way to re-ignite them for landing."

          Well, you'd install *extra* wee feisty little solid rockets onto the SRBs (well away from the flaming bit at the bottom) to slow them for landing. Kinda like the Soyuz capsule does for landing.

          So the actual issue is control. Not simply re-ignition.

          1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

            Re: "Fact is, it's still just cheaper to ditch them in the ocean"

            So the actual issue is control. Not simply re-ignition.

            It's also the large amount of fuel you need to retain for the landing and which you therefore can't use to launch stuff into space and make money. There is a huge opportunity cost to reusing space vehicles.

            1. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: "Fact is, it's still just cheaper to ditch them in the ocean"

              Landing the first stage of a large rocket takes about 45% more capability (fuel, landing legs, etc) in the rocket than to just let the stage drop into the ocean. If you are planning reuse, you need to build a large number of the components to be useable and reliable for several flights.

              Landing a rocket isn't that hard. NASA was landing rockets (Surveyor missions) on the moon in preparation for the Apollo manned landings. Since then, lots of rockets have been launched and landed upright and reused multiple times. Elon was inspired by the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge that finished up in 2009 with a start-up company, Masten Space Systems, winning the million dollar top prize. (Videos on YouTube). John Carrmack's Armadillo Aerospace was second in the money.

              Since SpaceX is a private company, it's difficult to know whether it's a financial win to recover the first stage and use it again. The PR is great, but that doesn't fund the payroll account. They've had to fix up their barge a bunch of times when it went from being a landing pad to a bullseye instead.

        2. W4YBO

          Re: "Fact is, it's still just cheaper to ditch them in the ocean"

          "NASA only ditched one Shuttle in the ocean..."

          Enterprise, Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis, Endeavour. Which one?

          1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

            Re: "Fact is, it's still just cheaper to ditch them in the ocean"

            Am I going mad? Surely a mono-rail type system would be much more efficient, cheaper to build, and also quicker?

            1. ArrZarr Silver badge
              Happy

              Re: "Fact is, it's still just cheaper to ditch them in the ocean"

              More efficient - maybe

              Cheaper to build - maybe

              Quicker - doubtful

              Space for buildings above it - none

              evacuation procedures - worse

              optimised routes - worse

              noise pollution - worse

            2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: "Fact is, it's still just cheaper to ditch them in the ocean"

              "Am I going mad? Surely a mono-rail type system would be much more efficient, cheaper to build, and also quicker?"

              Well, it certainly comes with a better theme song! :-)

              1. Roj Blake Silver badge

                Re: "Fact is, it's still just cheaper to ditch them in the ocean"

                But what about the track - will it bend?

                1. big_D Silver badge

                  Re: "Fact is, it's still just cheaper to ditch them in the ocean"

                  @Roj Blake

                  But what about the track - will it blend?

                  LMFTFY

                2. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. Pete4000uk

            Re: "Fact is, it's still just cheaper to ditch them in the ocean"

            Challenger. Columbia got 'dumped over land

          3. Roj Blake Silver badge

            Re: "Fact is, it's still just cheaper to ditch them in the ocean"

            Challenger ditched into the ocean multiple times.

      3. streaky Silver badge

        Actually tunnelling under stuff isn't the expensive / controversial / time-consuming part.

        No but it's what makes it particularly infeasible in the megacities where you'd hypothetically need this stuff most.

        Honestly the best answer to transport in megacities is reducing the number of journeys people have to take which is apparently what has caused TFL to "lose" 20 million journeys a year - people working from home.

    3. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Facepalm

      "How much money would that save anyway?"

      When it comes to ANY kind of public transportation, it's not about the money, it's about the SQANDERED TIME, waiting around to connect to another bus/trolley/train/whatever. If you're lucky, they show up every 30 minutes (or less, in some places). Some busses have hourly schedules. Some even WORSE.

      [no wonder people don't like public transportation in way too many places, with notable exceptions ONLY in a very small number of localized areas]

      Somewhat recently I pointed out that, with all of the hassles involved in flying between San Diego and Las Vegas, it would have been cheaper (overall) and taken the SAME AMOUNT OF TIME to rent a car and drive there and back, if you share the same car. And you wouldn't have to leave "at a certain time" etc. or hassle with baggage claim.

      (other implications are obvious I think)

      I like the self-driving car concept instead. You call up for a car, it shows up in under 5 minutes, and takes you to your destination. you subscribe to the service, theoretically being cheaper than car ownership. If properly managed, THAT would work (and it would be PRIVATELY owned, not "public" and therefore NOT subject to governmentium and politics).

      1. big_D Silver badge

        In the major cities I've used public transport, the tubes, trams and fast trains have run at 5 or 10 minute intervals. The further out from the centre, the longer the wait, because you don't have multiple vehicles sharing the same track.

        I used to drive to work, but have recently changed jobs. I now walk to the station (it is less than 2 miles from the house) and then walk the mile or so the other end to work. The train takes less time that going by car, but with the walk to and from the station, it obviously take longer in total, depending on traffic jams on the way into town... But it is a lot cheaper, a monthly ticket for the train costs about the same as a weeks worth of parking in town, let alone fuel costs (and insurance and depreciation, if we sell the 2nd car).

        1. tiggity Silver badge

          @ big_D

          You are lucky - your train service obviously relatively punctual and not frequently cancelled. Many of us play train lottery - will it be cancelled, if ni then now late will it be (early / on time is not even an option!)

          1. big_D Silver badge

            @tiggity so far, after 2.5 winter months, I've had one train cancelled (had to wait 10 minutes for the next one) and twice more than 5 minutes delay (but less than 15 minutes).

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          In inner cities where you have the population density, public transport can work. Outside of that, not so much. Buses either have to run often enough to be useful, in which case they will be largely empty, uneconomical and energy inefficient, or they don't run very often to try and fill them up in which case nobody who needs to be anywhere in a timely manner will want to use them.

          1. Emmeran

            End of the line

            Anecdotally enough I live at the End of the Line (heading west) for the Boston Public Transport system. Literally the last stop out of Boston by train & bus. The bus shows up here twice a day, at 5:30am and at 6:30pm, and it's a fight to keep that in service.

            There just aren't enough people out here to warrant the expense. From the center of Boston the train will cost you $10 to get out to Worcester and an Uber from that point is $40. The bus from there is cheap but any crimp in your transport timing leaves you out of luck and calling Uber. Train/bus takes three times longer than by car. So much so that when I got my DUI (yes I know but one and only) I paid someone to drive me as it was faster and ultimately cheaper to hand cash to someone on disability to drive me around.

            I do live in the boondocks and live here on purpose but just to support your post those are the facts.

        3. AmyInNH

          Both seem to be designed for peak inefficiency.

        4. MachDiamond Silver badge

          " it obviously take longer in total, depending on traffic jams on the way into town… "

          A Segway or folding electric bike that you can take on the train with you might speed things up a lot.

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