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 …

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.

13
0
Silver badge
Holmes

Fitting out

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

18
0
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).

58
38
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 ?

15
0
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.

11
0
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.

42
4
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).

25
16
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.

11
12
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.

13
3
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).

26
0
Silver badge

How much money would that save anyway

Station infra for a subway line usually costs more than the tunnels.

So any ideas on how to decrease that cost while leaving a similar end-to-end (this is actually from point A above ground to point B above ground) capacity is welcome.

Now, does this idea cut it or not - that is a different story.

8
0
Silver badge

"So any ideas on how to decrease that cost .."

Outsource to someone who doesn't actually care if it still works after they've been paid?

21
0
Anonymous Coward

"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,"

Goggle map says car 5 hrs , air 1 hr. so must be quite a bit of pissing around air wise.

I once tried flying from Manchester to London once to get a long haul flight. Disaster .

Had to get to manchester, on train , had to get to train station without car first.

waited around , got flight - turns out its to wrong london airport , got bus to correct one ...

Couldve got train from that first station all the way to correct London airport it turns out.

8
2
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!)

12
0
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

16
1
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

16
12
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.

4
1
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).

3
2

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?

3
0
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?

10
0
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.

5
6
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

6
0
J27

Flying in the USA requires an absolute minimum of 1 hour on each end, partly because of how slow the pointless TSA lines move.

15
0
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.

13
2

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

Challenger. Columbia got 'dumped over land

5
1
LDS
Silver badge
Joke

look it up on YouTube

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

7
0

Having done the trip multiple times (used to live in SD) I can say it's quicker to fly. SD is one of the fastest airports I've flown from (nice and small) and if you're off to vegas why would you ever have anything other than hand luggage?!

Remember to factor the time to find the rental car company, get transport to it and fill in all the paperwork.

That is also one dull drive....

1
1
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.

13
2
Silver badge
Coat

Re: RE: Crossrail

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

5
0
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.

7
1

San Diego like much of Southern Cal is very spread out.

Quite possible to take 1-2 hours to reach the airport given the areas truly awful traffic.

Plus because of security requirements it's recommended you arrive at the airport 2 hours before the flight.

So yes it's quite possible for it to take longer to fly than to drive.

13
0
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!

6
0
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! :-)

9
0
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.

8
0
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.

6
0
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?

4
3
Silver badge

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

Challenger ditched into the ocean multiple times.

2
0
Silver badge

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

But what about the track - will it bend?

2
0
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.

3
0
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.

6
0
Bronze 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.

3
0
Bronze badge

Is there anything to his 'we can tunnel cheaper and quicker' stuff? How much money would that save anyway?

Mr Musk's theory seems to be that tunnels for electric vehicles can be very much smaller and therefore cheaper than tunnels for internal combustion engines. Which is a bit true, but only up to a point. You can reduce the size and complexity of the ventilation system, but humans still need to breathe and you still need escape routes and safety tunnels. All modern tunnels of any length - Crossrail, Gotthard Base, you name it - are for electric propulsion and they still aren't cheap.

As so often, Musk appears to think that all engineering problems can be solved by throwing money at programmers. It ain't so.

3
0
Bronze 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.

3
0
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

1
0
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
2

So instead of buses

You've just invented taxis?

4
0

This post has been deleted by its author

They're trying desperately to keep "car" in play.

It all (buses/cars/trains) should've been replaced with @SkyTran. But there's a whole lot of industry money invested in vehicle usage: paving, auto maintenance, auto insurance, parking, gas, oil, etc., etc., that's blocking MOVE ON. It's a means of being on near every household's payroll: car payments, insurance, gas, etc.

2
4

Traffic jam equals traffic jam equals traffic jam. Whether parked in your own car, on a bus, or in a taxi. This mode of transport needs to be flushed out of existence.

1
4

Both seem to be designed for peak inefficiency.

1
2

Page:

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Forums

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2018