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 …

  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.

        5. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          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

          And you can use the time on the train productively, rather than sitting behind the steering wheel. Opportunity costs are also costs.

          I get the resistance to public transportation, really I do. When I lived in the Boston area I alternated public transport and driving my car, depending on my mood and (most often) whether I got my ass to the train station or bus stop in time.[1] Even though public transport was much better in many respects, Boston traffic being what it is, there were many days when the sheer on-my-own-schedule nature of driving my car persuaded me.

          I no longer commute, but I still much prefer driving my own car for long trips. It's a 23-hour drive between Stately Wojcik Manor and the Mountain Fastness, but I've done it, oh, probably a hundred times now, rather than fly and rent a car. (Public transportation options at the Fastness are limited.)[2]

          But still. I got a ton of work, and entertainment (reading), and relaxation (sleeping) done on buses and trains back when I was in Boston. If I had to do that again, I think I'd actually drive a lot less than I did. Touring is one thing; I have much less patience than I once did for sitting in traffic.

          [1] For my commute, I could either walk to a bus stop and take the bus into the city, or drive a few miles to the train station and take that in. Then it was either subway or, time permitting, walking about to get around in the city. In the evening I'd take a different train out in the other direction to another job (a passion project at a startup), and then catch a ride home later with a co-worker. Or I could do everything in my own car.

          [2] I do the drive over two days, if anyone was wondering whether I was actually pulling a 23-hour marathon shift behind the wheel. That'd be dumb. I draw the line at 19 hours.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        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.

        1. J27 Bronze badge

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

        2. rob 47

          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....

        3. midcapwarrior

          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.

        4. MachDiamond Silver badge

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

          It's recommended that you get to the airport 2 hours before your flight leaves so there's time to go through the one open lane of Homemade Security to get your strip search and be able to go to the opposite end of the airport where your departure gate is located. You have to do this with you bags in hand since it's going to be half the price of your ticket to check any baggage (to be fair, tickets from SD to LV are generally pretty cheap). Once you arrive in Las Vegas, if you have checked any luggage, you have to wait around the wrong carousel for a while until the sign board changes and you find that the bags are being delivered somewhere else. It's then off to the car hire desk (optional) and hence to the hotel.

          It's faster or the same amount of time to just drive. The benefit is that you aren't running to adhere to deadlines and have your car to get around town and leave whenever you wish. You don't get a complimentary groping, but nothing will be missing out of your baggage either.

          The process of traveling by air is so demeaning at this point that I just drive anywhere when the trip can be done by car. Perhaps it would be better if I could afford first class and didn't object to a full background check to avoid being treated like a criminal. As it is, I am "randomly selected" on every leg of every trip for extra screening. Since I've never been arrested and I am not a bull-horn wielding activist, it seems a bit odd. My name is common as muck too.

          1. hplasm Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Homemade Security.

            +1 for that!

        5. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

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

          Easy. TSA recommends you get to the airport 2 hours before your flight, so that's 3 for air travel right away. Figure another hour getting to and from the airport - and that's likely optimistic, once you figure in things like parking (or waiting for a shuttle, or public transportation). Now the car's only an hour behind.

          Do you need a car at your destination? Great - now you're losing half an hour getting to some idiotic airport car-rental complex, picking up a car. (I'm assuming you have a rental membership and reservation, otherwise it'll probably be an hour at least until you're on the road.) And then you have to get to the hotel or whatever, and air travel's in a dead heat with driving.

          Checked luggage? Oh, sure, you can cram a few things into a carry-on and fight for overhead space with the rest of the barbarians. Look at all the luggage room my car has! If I want even a tenth of that luggage capacity when I fly, I have to check a bag. And now I'm waiting at least 15 minutes to get it after the plane lands.

          Air travel is also much more susceptible to weather and equipment delays.

          Chicago's about a four-hour drive from where I live, and that's nearly always under the break-even point (i.e. driving is faster). I've done it both ways several times. If there's no really serious jam getting out of Chicago, the car will win.

      3. TimB

        So instead of buses

        You've just invented taxis?

      4. AmyInNH

        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.

    4. Voland's right hand 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.

      1. Omgwtfbbqtime 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?

      2. AmyInNH

        SkyTran. I asked them to draw up more on how much they save. A fraction of the cost, of existing public transports.

    5. Ian Johnston Silver 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.

    6. AmyInNH

      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. wolfetone Silver badge
    Coat

    I'm sure the ladies of Essex will welcome their new form of protection.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Even the greatest minds have a few failures

    Few people remember the problems that Brunel had with his 'Atmospheric Railway'.

    IMHO, he is trying to justify his 'Boring Company'.

    Again, IMHO, he needed to create a full size working Hyperloop and run it 24/7 for a year to demonstrate to the world that it works and can show the economics of putting one in.

    The same applies to this idea. At the moment it is an idea. It might work in theory but in practice? Who knows.

    He's demonstrated that his Semi works as does the new Roadster. About time he did the same for these rather grandeose ideas.

    1. J. R. Hartley Silver badge

      Re: Even the greatest minds have a few failures

      As Tina Turner said, what's his penis got to do with it?

    2. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Even the greatest minds have a few failures

      I would think, a year won't cover it. The ROI for the hyper-loop is probably going to be *at least* a decade...

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Even the greatest minds have a few failures

        "I would think, a year won't cover it. The ROI for the hyper-loop is probably going to be *at least* a decade..."

        He was talking about enough of a track to provide a proper proof of concept, not to make a profit.

    3. Chz

      Re: Even the greatest minds have a few failures

      Side-tracking for a moment, I can't imagine how Hyperloop will ever be built. If high-speed rail struggles to justify its cost, how on earth is something even more expensive going to fare? I think Concorde already proved that there is a limit to how much people will pay for speed. Or at least a limit to how many of those people exist. In the HL presentation I saw, safety issues were basically handwaved away as trivial...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Even the greatest minds have a few failures

        Note that Elon Musk has floated the idea of the hyper-loop, but he hasn't started any work on it or invested money. Considering the number of similar projects that have been tried and abandoned, I would be very careful going for it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @AC

          "Note that Elon Musk has floated the idea of the hyper-loop, but he hasn't started any work on it or invested money."

          That's not entirely true. They are building a test track in the US (which obviously isn't cheap) and that process is still on-going as far as I know.

          The question though is how feasible this will become. If you check up on reports about this test track then you can already spot massive amounts of rust forming inside the tunnel, and if you look at how the outside of the tunnel is set up then, well... That's not always very high-tech either. Even up to points where you can find outside connections of the tunnel being filled up with stacks of paper.

          1. katrinab Silver badge

            Re: @AC

            It is also still a lot slower than a French TGV.

          2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: @AC

            "already spot massive amounts of rust forming inside the tunnel,"

            In the real world, that's already a solved problem. Why Hyperloop haven't managed to solve it is another matter.

          3. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: @AC

            "That's not entirely true. They are building a test track in the US (which obviously isn't cheap) and that process is still on-going as far as I know."

            There is a "they" building a test track, but it's not Elon. Elon built a 1km test section outside of the SpaceX plant. Since Tesla didn't coat the inside to protect the steel and then poured a load of concrete in, it's no wonder that the inside has rusted significantly. Rust in a vacuum chamber is not a good thing.

            I want to see how any company (Sir Richard Branson included) are going to deal with expansion and contraction issues with fantastically long steel pipes sitting out in the sun. A tube from Los Angeles to San Francisco of around 600km is going to expand and shrink better than 300m over the course of a year. Cracks that let air in are a huge problem. A big crack happening suddenly would introduce a column of supersonic air that would impact a train going at supersonic speeds head on. Splat. The next several trains coming up from behind would be in bid trouble too. Trains traveling away from the break aren't going to fare well either.

      2. rh587

        Re: Even the greatest minds have a few failures

        I think Concorde already proved that there is a limit to how much people will pay for speed. Or at least a limit to how many of those people exist.

        No it didn't. Concorde never turned an operating loss (the circumstances of it's birth and being sold to BA/AF for £1 not withstanding).

        Concorde was profitable to the end, but BA simply realised that they could make a lot more profit per passenger by forcing them into subsonic First Class and the business-class-only London City-JFK route. In the wake of the global aviation downturn post-9/11, they needed to maximise profit from every seat they were flying.

        1. Dom 3

          Re: Even the greatest minds have a few failures

          Channel 5's been showing a two-part documentary on Concorde recently. So if any of the following facts are wrong, blame C5. Concorde *was* a loss maker at the beginning of the 1980s. Lord King gave the whole thing over to Brian Walpole (chief Concorde pilot) and gave him two years to make it profitable. The first thing they did was a bit of market research. They discovered that the majority of passengers had no idea how much the tickets cost, and when asked to guess, significantly under-estimated. So they simply put the prices up. And from then on it *did* turn an operating profit. Not to mention the marketing benefits of making it the star of their advertising.

          https://theadaptivemarketer.com/2012/01/14/a-pricing-lesson-from-the-concorde/

          As for "sold for a £1" - the last one or two, not the whole lot. My google-fu has failed and I cannot find a good link.

        2. Chz

          Re: Even the greatest minds have a few failures

          I think Concorde already proved that there is a limit to how much people will pay for speed. Or at least a limit to how many of those people exist.

          No it didn't. Concorde never turned an operating loss (the circumstances of it's birth and being sold to BA/AF for £1 not withstanding).

          If that were true - and it's not, because as another poster pointed out Concorde very much did lose money earlier in its career - it still doesn't disprove the point. A hellishly expensive, high-tech engineering program that completely sated the world's market for supersonic passenger aircraft. All 14 of them. That is not a success, except in engineering terms.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Even the greatest minds have a few failures

            "A hellishly expensive, high-tech engineering program that completely sated the world's market for supersonic passenger aircraft. All 14 of them. That is not a success, except in engineering terms."

            I suspect the demand was greatly reduced when it was banned from flying supersonic over land masses, especially the USA. Anyone know what a sonic boom at 30,000' sounds like at ground level? I don't believe I've heard an aircraft produce a sonic boom so have no idea what the reality is.

            1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

              Re: Even the greatest minds have a few failures

              Anyone know what a sonic boom at 30,000' sounds like at ground level?

              According to the ever-handy Internet, there are a number of "special supersonic corridors" in the US. Some are controlled by the DoD, others by the FAA.

              There's a big one between Los Angeles and Las Vegas (that is, between points somewhat outside those cities), over Edwards AFB and other military installations, so probably many folks in that part of the country have heard sonic booms. And there's one in New York state, etc. So you could wander around those areas and ask.

              But the best analysis I've found is this, which after some fine calculation and research arrives at: "the sonic boom of the Concorde ... is comparable to the trumpet in 0.5m distance".

              The author notes, though, that the boom (really booms, one from the nose and one from the tail) is sudden, though, which makes it be perceived as louder. Though someone could sneak up behind you with a trumpet ... but I digress.

              Comments on that second, StackExchange page also claim anecdotally that the booms from the Space Shuttle were very audible. My guess is that regular supersonic passenger service over inhabited land would meet some resistance.

              There was a mighty fuss in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico over Cannon AFB's Low Altitude Tactical Navigation training flights, and those were all well subsonic (limited to 250 knots, less than half the speed of sound, even at the top of Wheeler Peak, where it's about Mach 0.44).

            2. onefang Silver badge

              Re: Even the greatest minds have a few failures

              "Anyone know what a sonic boom at 30,000' sounds like at ground level? I don't believe I've heard an aircraft produce a sonic boom so have no idea what the reality is."

              I used to live on an Air Force base. The F-111 pilots where not supposed to sonic boom near the base, but often did. There's a loud bang or three, and the windows rattle. They where usually a lot closer to the ground though.

    4. ZSn

      Re: Even the greatest minds have a few failures

      I think the big difference between Brunel and Musk is that Brunel was a great engineer whereas Musk employs them. Perhaps someone could enlighten me but does elon actually design anything, or does he just provide the cash and visibility?

    5. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Even the greatest minds have a few failures

      "Few people remember the problems that Brunel had with his 'Atmospheric Railway'."

      Yes, primarily a materials science failure. Who'd have guessed that taking animal skin aka leather and slathering it with animal fat might not be seen as an all-you-eat buffet by the local rat population :-)

      The concept was good and speeds achieved were very good. I see there's a scale test track for a modern take using the equivalent of the pneumatic tubes shops used to send bill/receipts/cash around, but the packages have honking big magnets in them, as do the trains, so the tube can be sealed and uses the magnets to pull the trains.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Even the greatest minds have a few failures

      Elon is not even a mediocre mind. He has demonstrated that with luck an unhinged wanker can make a ton of money.

      1. hplasm Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: Even the greatest minds have a few failures

        "Elon is not even a mediocre mind. ..."

        You poor, unlucky person.

    7. hplasm Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Even the greatest minds have a few failures

      "Few people remember the problems that Brunel had with his 'Atmospheric Railway'."

      Just really, really old ones.

  4. Francis Boyle Silver badge

    I suspect

    ejector seats would be more efficient if not practical.

    Also how do you stop people falling into that big hole.

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: I suspect you're not thinking like a futureologist!

      You don't stop them falling into the hole. You rename the hole a 'grav shaft' because that's the future, baby! Throw together some slick presentations and collect funds before too many questions get asked. All you have to do is stay ahead of the lawyers.

      But there are other possible lessons from the past. Like mail trains. Passengers simply climb into their personal travel space (large mail bag), get suspended from hooks, and automatically yoinked into passing trains. At destination, they're safely ejected into an arrival net. Perfect for the kind of adventurous thrill seekers that like getting taken for a ride by the Musk machine!

      Public transportation can be made so much more energy efficient though if the transports don't stop.

      1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

        Re: I suspect you're not thinking like a futureologist!

        Public transportation can be made so much more energy efficient though if the transports don't stop.

        I think I read about that in a book. Have London underground trains back to back all the way along then join the in a continuous loop. Just make them so that it's just above walking speed so that a quick jog is enough to board. Problem solved,(those in wheel chairs came down a small ski ramp to get some speed up to enter easily)

        Pensioners never got off......

        1. rh587

          Re: I suspect you're not thinking like a futureologist!

          I think I read about that in a book. Have London underground trains back to back all the way along then join the in a continuous loop. Just make them so that it's just above walking speed so that a quick jog is enough to board. Problem solved,(those in wheel chairs came down a small ski ramp to get some speed up to enter easily)

          Isaac Asimov thought of it in 1954 - Caves of Steel being the tome that you are seeking, in which our heroes "ride the conveyors" that sequentially accelerate people up to train speed.

          1. lglethal Silver badge
            Trollface

            Re: I suspect you're not thinking like a futureologist!

            Factories that produce products in their thousands like a coke factory have conveyor belts that shuttle around the products at very high speed and can branch things off easily and without stopping or slowing down. So what we need is something like that. Lets get in touch with Conveyor Belt manufacturers and get them started on man size versions...

          2. Alister Silver badge

            Re: I suspect you're not thinking like a futureologist!

            Isaac Asimov thought of it in 1954 - Caves of Steel being the tome that you are seeking, in which our heroes "ride the conveyors" that sequentially accelerate people up to train speed.

            Also "The Roads must Roll" by Heinlein.

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: I suspect you're not thinking like a futureologist!

          "I think I read about that in a book. Have London underground trains back to back all the way along then join the in a continuous loop. Just make them so that it's just above walking speed so that a quick jog is enough to board. "

          Are you thinking of Heinleins 1940 story "The Roads Must Roll"?

        3. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: I suspect you're not thinking like a futureologist!

          Sgt suggested that, "Pensioners never got off......"

          I'm sure that they do, at least once in a while.

      2. jmch Silver badge

        Re: I suspect you're not thinking like a futureologist!

        "Public transportation can be made so much more energy efficient though if the transports don't stop"

        There's an idea right there. Something like ski-lift mechanism, the main 'train' continues at constant high speed while individual cabins can attach and detach at slower speeds at the 'stations'

      3. bazza Silver badge

        Re: I suspect you're not thinking like a futureologist!

        Public transportation can be made so much more energy efficient though if the transports don't stop.

        Stopping and starting are not the problem. Braking and applying power to accelerate are the problem. So if you coast uphill to stop, and roll downhill to accelerate, you're not using / losing energy in stopping and starting.

        And funnily enough the Crossrail engineers know this, and the vertical profile of their tracks is arranged so that the trains more or less roll to a stop at the stations, and roll off downhill towards the next station.

    2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: I suspect

      Also how do you stop people falling into that big hole.

      Flashy demo graphics aside, that's a solved problem. If you go to any city with a metro system and elevators to street level, they're called lift doors.

      As far as I can tell, what Musk is proposing is a glorified Wonkavator™.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: I suspect

        "Flashy demo graphics aside, that's a solved problem. If you go to any city with a metro system and elevators to street level, they're called lift doors."

        But those flashy graphics show a car driving onto a lift platform at surface level, as part of the road, then dropping down to the tunnels. That's going to be a hell of good lift "door" that has to slide out and rise to replace the section of road that just disappeared.

  5. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "it's a [..] electric bus that automatically switches between tunnels and lifts"

    I would really like to see such a system IRL, if only to see how long Musk can stand the lift time and how quickly he will jump back into his serial-killer-free helicopter to get to his destination.

    Really, Musk, "inventing" a mass-transit system that costs billions more than the existing one, what a brilliant idea. And a tunneling system that is 14 times faster, really ? What does it tunnel with, nuclear-powered lasers ?

    Oh well, it's Monday. Bound to be stupid stuff happening on a Monday.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: "it's a [..] electric bus that automatically switches between tunnels and lifts"

      His 14 times quicker could be that he's arguing total building time - in not having to build the complex infrastructure of stations.

      Or it could be (and this seems more likely to me) that as his lift-busstop-thingies are shafts drilled down to tunnel level, he could lower tunnelling machines down all of these and dig the tunnels from multiple machines. So it's the sort of idea where if you spend billions on tunnelling machines but have contracts for years ahead, you could use loads to make each contract much quicker and then re-use them on later projects.

      I think Crossrail is only using something like 8 machines to dig a very large network. And they finished (and mothballed) a bunch of stations in 2016, so they could move on to the next bunch to finish about the same time as the network. So in principal they could have built the network twice as quickly by using twice the number of machines and employed loads of extra contractors to build all those stations simultaneously. I imagine they decided that added too much risk, as to time and cost over-runs, as well as disrupting the rest of London an unacceptable amount.

      People under-estimate the cost of tunnelling though. It's not just having a few machines and crews to run them. You've got to do loads of geology and surveying. If you dig somewhere like London you've got to have a research team to track previous works too - and an archaology team to deal with all the plague pits and Roman remains. Plus time in the schedule to let the archaeologists sit in a trench for a couple of months on an unexpected bit of your site. Plus you need a factory to reprocess all the soil you dig out, and send it somewhere. And a huge amount of concrete infrastucture to line the tunnels - the machine sprays quick-drying concrete on the walls and then lays fitted concrete tiles over the top of that - and you need yet more for soil-grouting (to shore up weak spots and wet-spots).

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: "it's a [..] electric bus that automatically switches between tunnels and lifts"

        Even if you could dig straight down in hundreds of places easily (you can't, any decent sized city has all sorts of infrastructure down below, not all of it properly documented) and lower a 14x faster tunnel borer you're still left with the problem that its speed is limited by all the work required before it can drill anywhere.

        You may need to go a hundred feet or more below ground level (in some cities multiple hundreds of feet) to get below existing subway tunnels, piles driven into the ground for skyscraper foundations, etc. If you go down deep enough that you know FOR SURE there's no infrastructure there, you have higher pressures, more heat, more water, and of course potential voids (i.e. caves) subsidence, etc.

        Where I live is nothing remotely close to a major city like London or NYC, but there are caves 20-30 feet underground in multiple places downtown. Back in the 1800s they were used as beer cellars by breweries operating in the area. If there are caves at such a shallow depth, who knows what there would be if you went down 60 or 70 feet to get below the lowest possible depth of the foundations of the tallest "skyscrapers" in town (like 15 stories or so) You might be tunneling along and your borer drops 100 feet into a massive cave. Or might remove just enough rock in a certain area that a massive subsidence causes damage to the foundation of a building above.

        This Boring plan is ludicrous. I used to have a lot more respect for Musk but he's totally lost it with Hyperloop and then this boring idea! What's next, personal airplanes for traveling into major cities that require using EM catapults on the roof of tall buildings and arrestor cables for landing? Makes me wonder how much involvement he really had with Tesla and SpaceX, versus just doing a good job hiring people who could actually make his dreams a reality. Because there is no one he can hire to make the Boring company a reality.

  6. Oh Homer Silver badge
    Boffin

    Or as they say in London...

    The Underground.

    Wait, don't we have one of those already?

    Also, our London Underground hydraulic train elevators are called ... stairs. Our trains also tend to accommodate more than four passengers at a time.

    Waiting for Musk to invent stairs...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Or as they say in London...

      "Also, our London Underground hydraulic train elevators are called ... stairs. "

      Have you heard of some things called "Escalators"? :-)

      Not much of the Loop concept makes sense, until you consider that the USA already has vehicles straight out of Thunderbirds, as anyone who has seen a "mobile lounge" at Washington airport can attest.

      1. AMBxx Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Or as they say in London...

        What's the average distance between underground stops? Few hundred metres? This new 'bus' is supposed to be travelling at 150mph. That's impressive acceleration!

        Mine's the coat smeared after accelerating to 150 mph over 200 metres.

        1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

          Re: Or as they say in London...

          .. apparently the shortest distance between two London underground stops is 0.3Km,.... so a few hundred metres, longest is just over 6km, can't find an average. Take the 6km example, that's a couple of minutes, depending on the acceleration,... how long to surface? Then people getting on and off,..... and there's someone with a full sized bike trying to squeeze past the occupants, and you know, regular Zombie commuters trying to get on, before people wanting to get off, get off.

          1. katrinab Silver badge

            Re: Or as they say in London...

            The 6km gap is on the Metropolitan Line between Zones 8 and 9. That is a suburban rail service that for political reasons was assigned to TfL rather than to Chiltern Railways, who share tracks with them on other parts of that line. I would exclude that as an outlier when looking at typical tube journeys.

            The average across the whole network by the way is 1.31km, on the Circle Line, it is 770m, source: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/distance_between_adjacent_underg

        2. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

          Re: Or as they say in London...

          Re-think it a bit. Instead of a huge train carrying hundreds of people stopping every three minutes, have many tiny trains each carrying a few people who are all going to the same place. No need to accelerate and stop at every station on the journey. Dwell time is less important because the only people dwelling are those entering and leaving the system.

          There are plenty of reasons for this project to be impractical but parts of it make more sense than some of us commentards realise.

          1. Teiwaz Silver badge

            Re: Or as they say in London...

            have many tiny trains each carrying a few people who are all going to the same place

            kind of sounds how the black taxies operate in 'Derry,,,

          2. Nigel Whitfield.

            Re: Or as they say in London...

            If all the people are going to the same destination, so that intermediate stops can be skipped, what about embarkation?

            You'd have to wait for a carriage of your own, so at busy times there could be a substantial wait

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Or as they say in London...

        I thought I'd been imbibing too much business class booze when I saw those at Dulles! The indignity of having to sit with the proles on a sweatbox bus on stilts after the rarified environs of my lie-flat bed...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Boring? :Yawn:

    Musko recently stated he spends 2% or less of his time doing Boring company stuff, I guess it shows. However he does have enough followers and limelight to keep his pet project in peoples view.

    If its a load of old tosh... meh. If it revolutionises everything, well then that's just great.

    I wonder if he could fix the UK train network... now that's something I'd like to see.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Boring? :Yawn:

      "I wonder if he could fix the UK train network... now that's something I'd like to see."

      He'd probably design a train that can go from London to Edinborough in 45 minutes, but could only carry 7 people, thus crippling the network with under capacity.

      Don't get me wrong, I like the look of his cars, and SpaceX appears to be doing a great job, but he has *no* idea how to build a public transport system.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Boring? :Yawn:

        "but he has *no* idea how to build a public transport system."

        Spot on. He doesn't seem to get that for the speeds he's talking about you need to be running in near as dammit straight lines, curves need to be very, very gentle and banked correctly. In many places that's not possible on the surface at all and likely not possible underground either (or at least a lot more expensive than he realises) due to the geology (assuming he's planning on being deep enough down to not affect the surface or any other underground utilities or structures.

  8. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

    The old peasant wagon.

    Bizarre he wants to lift the bus/train out of the tunnel rather than let passengers out and raise them up instead.

    1. big_D Silver badge
      Coat

      The patent for letting the passengers alight and raise them up to the surface has already been taken...

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
        Happy

        The patent for letting the passengers alight and raise them up to the surface has already been taken...

        Have you heard of the Cyrius Cybernetics Happy Vertical People Transporter?

        Share and Enjoy!

    2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      The old peasant wagon

      He seems to have forgotten that we have legs.

      With Robo-taxi's taking us from door to door and with no parking charges his idea of the world sees human legs as being redundant.

      He'll probably 'invent' something to allow us to have them surgically removed at birth (/sarcasm)

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Re: The old peasant wagon

        Wall-E!

  9. Christopher Rogers

    Yea, dead idea. The underground system exists. If he could combine his hyperloop theory with the existing underground systems around the world to make them more efficient etc then hes on to something.

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      The underground system exists

      And it's existed for about 150 years during which time just about every economically feasible mitigation for its capacity constraints has been implemented.

      The frequency of the trains is constrained by their ability to brake safely, the length of the trains is constrained by the size of the stations, the size of the stations is constrained by the ability to get people in and out through the corridors and escalators.

      Putting hyperloop technology into existing tunnels can do nothing other than reduce their capacity...

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      If he could combine his hyperloop theory with the existing underground systems around the world to make them more efficient etc then hes on to something."

      Many existing underground systems are already running multi-100 capacity trains every 3 minutes or so. How frequent do 8-passenger cars gave to run to compete with that? A vastly bigger and more complex network might do it, but not just a minor expansion of existing networks. I could maybe see it working with smaller trains if stations had passing places so other trains could pass through if no one needed to get off there and there might be smaller trains on the platform loop waiting and ready at all times. I could see rush hour getting interesting though.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've got a better idea. Dig a tunnel at a 45 degree angle downwards from point A to B, dig another tunnel from B to A the same. You now have a way of getting between both points. Install slides and at the bottom of each ramp install a trampoline so you have a way of getting back up to the surface. Hey presto urban transportation solved and it's Eco friendly because it requires no power other than the force of gravity. As it's a trampoline and a ramp call it the Tramp network. This inventing stuffs a doddle.

    1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
      Boffin

      Look up Brachistochrone for a better idea. Fun fact: subway tracks may (partly) use this idea between stations. Add feeding back energy when breaking for additional eco-extremism (done where I live).

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Devil

      Why dig the tunnels?

      Why not just have trampolines on the tops of tall buildings? These are your "sending stations".

      Your "arrival stations" are nets on slightly shorter buildings.

      Then if you want to go on further, simply go up the escalator to the next "sending station" and hey presto boing! You're there.

      I admit I'm still undecided as to whether this is my solution to urban transportation or urban over-population...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Sounds like a lot of fun - that is until the H&S Nazi's get in on the act.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Don't worry old chap we have brexit for that. None of this regulation imposed on us to protect workers and people anymore.

        2. Roj Blake Silver badge
          Headmaster

          Re: H&S Nazi's

          It's the grammar Nazis that you should be worried about.

    3. Norman Nescio Silver badge

      About 40 minutes to anywhere.

      I've got a better idea. Dig a tunnel at a 45 degree angle downwards from point A to B, dig another tunnel from B to A the same. You now have a way of getting between both points. Install slides and at the bottom of each ramp install a trampoline so you have a way of getting back up to the surface. Hey presto urban transportation solved and it's Eco friendly because it requires no power other than the force of gravity. As it's a trampoline and a ramp call it the Tramp network. This inventing stuffs a doddle.

      Actually, if you get friction low enough, you don't need the 45 degree angle. Any angle less than horizontal will work. And, what is more, you can get from any point on the Earth's surface to any other point in the same time (roughly 40 minutes), no matter how far away it is, and it requires no power, only gravity. You need a straight, direct, frictionless (so no air in it) tunnel connecting the two points. The classic problem is working out how long it would take you to fall through the earth to the other side, assuming you fall through a frictionless tunnel straight through the centre of the earth. There are lots of web-sites explaining this - here is just one: Wired - How Long Would It Take to Fall Through the Earth?, but an Internet search engine will give you many more, as well as YouTube videos.

      What is not often appreciated is that you can fall through a frictionless tunnel connecting any two points on the Earth's surface (assuming the Earth is a sphere), and the odd thing is, it will always take the same time. It is explained in this Wikipedia article: Gravity Train.

  11. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Multi-level?

    So he plans 30 levels of 'bus' tube - if we allow 5m of height per level, that's a tunnel 150m high and about 5m wide. Structurally an interesting concept. Wouldn't it be easier to just move everyone underground and free up the surface for transport?

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Multi-level?

      "So he plans 30 levels of 'bus' tube - if we allow 5m of height per level, that's a tunnel 150m high and about 5m wide."

      Elon's big idea is to bore the tunnels with a smaller diameter TBM. That's how he plans to be able to bore faster than anybody else. Funny thing is that I haven't seen his math on the "throughput" of these smaller diameter tunnels.

  12. sisk Silver badge

    High tech for the sake of high tech

    This concept introduces a much more expensive solution with many more potential failure points to a problem that was solved decades ago. It is the complex solution that doesn't work attempting to replace the simple solution that works just fine.

    And, frankly, I gotta admit that I agree that the isolation Musk is seeking is a conceit that only the rich can afford. I mean seriously, how often do people get killed by random strangers on a bus?

    In my opinion the only reason to pursue this particular design is to have a high tech solution for the sake of having a high tech solution, which, in my experience, usually results in disaster. You should not replace low tech solutions that work just fine with high tech solutions that may introduce new problems unless doing so offers some benefit great enough to offset the potential problems. And, frankly, not having to sit next to strangers is not that big a benefit.

    1. lglethal Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: High tech for the sake of high tech

      "...how often do people get killed by random strangers on a bus?"

      Well he does live in America...

      1. Diodelogic

        Re: High tech for the sake of high tech

        Well the last few stabbings I read about in the news occured on the top deck of a London bus...

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: High tech for the sake of high tech

        "Well he does live in America... and grew up in apartheid South Africa where they pretty much invented armed car jacking (or at least made it "popular")

    2. the Jim bloke Bronze badge
      Trollface

      Re: High tech for the sake of high tech

      "I mean seriously, how often do people get killed by random strangers on a bus?"

      only once.

  13. Geoff Johnson

    150 mph

    On my local route, the stops are only a few hundred yards apart. Not sure what G-force you'd need to get to 150MPH and stop at the next one, and whether a human can survive it.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: 150 mph

      ACK

      this is the reason why trains over short distances don't work very well, and why we have busses and shuttles at train stops (for things _like_ commuting, for example). If you're stopping every few hundred feet, the train can't get up to speed. Same kinds of implications here, as the meatbags inside the "transportation device" can't handle more than 2G of acceleration safely (this number may be smaller than 2G, I was guessing).

      So, unless the stops are several MILES apart, which would defeat the purpose of its existence, it ain't gonna be practical.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: 150 mph

        Even 2G is a bit rough if you have a bag in one hand and are dangling by a strap held in the other and are trying not to slam into the guy next to you that looks like his nickname is The Shropshire Slasher.

    2. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: 150 mph

      GJ worried about Newton's Laws.

      Internet Calculator says: 1g for 6.8s to 150mph needs 752 feet.

      Then another 752 feet for 1g de-acceleration.

      So stops would need to be about 1500 feet apart.

      Hold onto your milk and eggs. Root-2 Gravity would be at 45°. Yee haw.

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

        Re: 150 mph

        Aren't those figures dependent on the mass of the vehicle accelerating? (Laden mass at that).

        1G of lateral force on a train - you'd better be strapped in :)

        1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge

          Re: 150 mph

          > those figures dependent on the mass of the vehicle ...?

          Nope. For the energy bill, however, yes.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: 150 mph

        "Then another 752 feet for 1g de-acceleration."

        Yeah, you better hope there's no curves!

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 150 mph

        Wow, I expected much higher forces. 500 yard stops seems reasonable. Got to wait until people are seated and belted in before driving off though.

  14. Simon Ritchie

    tunnels under London?

    if this could be done in London (if), it could be better than the surface buses, which run at less than wallking pace because of the other traffic. If you could speed up the trip between each stop, a longer dwell time would not be such an issue.

    However, as Crossrail discovered, boring tunnels under a city is not easy. There is already a lot of stuff under the ground and you have to find your way round it. Just below the surface, where he would put his not-bus stops, many streets already full with the ducting for power and comms cables, gas and water.

    So yes, this is somebody who doesn’t even use mass transport, and knows little about it.

    He’s not trying to draw his shareholder’s attention away from something else is he? Maybe his difficulty producing his target number of cars?

  15. steelpillow Silver badge
    Joke

    What goes down...

    How about going up instead of down? No messy tunnel boring, no slow lifts to wait for. You could call it ... an Airbus.

    1. tiggity Silver badge

      Re: What goes down...

      I quite fancy a zip wire network (would need powered options for occasional uphill parts) - would be fun, Wear the same safety gear for whole journey, just click in to each wire.

      Plus, everyone would have the comforting thought that no matter how much of a **** they look on a zip wire, they look far more dignified than Boris Johnson did.

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

        Re: What goes down...

        would need powered options for occasional uphill parts)

        I vote for those mini-jet engines that the wing-suited nutters used for sustained flight :)

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eS2rjcVcaqQ

        Note that this was 11 years ago now! God I feel old.

      2. Steve K Silver badge

        Re: What goes down...

        Nice idea, but even better would be the water slides like in that Visa/Mastercard ad a few years ago (in the summer anyway....)

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: What goes down...

          "Nice idea, but even better would be the water slides like in that Visa/Mastercard ad a few years ago (in the summer anyway....)"

          But then you need mass-transit lifts to get people to the elevated stations. How fast can you make a Paternoster lift go before no one can get on?

          I'd prefer steel roller coasters. Just use liner motor accelerators to launch them. I once built that as a transport system in Rollercoaster Tycoon :-)

          On a more realistic note, why not build a monorail?

          (No, it's not a Simpsons link, it's a real monorail, suspended so it swings out on curves. )

    2. Pedigree-Pete
      Go

      Re: What goes down...

      Doesn't Chicago have a mostly over ground metro rail system? How about DLR. If you're building out a new part of a city (or better building a new city) public transport infrastructure can be built in like sewage, water, gas and electric and in some cases high speed FTTH. PP

      1. John Gamble

        Re: What goes down...

        "Doesn't Chicago have a mostly over ground metro rail system?"

        You're thinking of light rail (which is what our Metra system is), which is used to feed commuters in from the outlying areas. Which honestly seems like what Musk is describing, except putting it within the city, which makes no sense.

        Short-hop transportation is what buses and the L is for. I'm all for increased rail usage, but let's make sure it's put where it makes sense to put it -- medium distance travel (city to city) that replaces otherwise inconvenient car trips.

        To be fair, there's talk here about using the Boring company to create another L line between airports, with a stop downtown, but that would be using the standard L cars, not Hyperloop.

    3. Korev Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: What goes down...

      "How about going up instead of down? No messy tunnel boring, no slow lifts to wait for. You could call it ... an Airbus."

      Love it -->

  16. Come to the Dark Side
    Coat

    Musks interview:

    Q.What about us braindead slobs?

    A.You'll all be given cushy jobs!

    Q.Were you sent here by the devil?

    A.No, good sir, I'm on the level!

    At least in my head.... I'll grab my coat...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yup, Musk is actually Lyle Lanley already been built in Brockway, Ogdenville and North Haverbrook.

  17. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Coat

    Tunnels and lifts

    Up/down & left/right

    That's a Star Trek turbo lify, surely ?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    it's NOT a bus

    it's an e-Bus. Moreover, e-Bus 2.0!

  19. FuzzyTheBear
    FAIL

    Stupid idea that needs to go where stupid goes.

    Imagine a city , ANY city's downtown area. Consider everything called infrastructure under there , including metro underground, the shopping , underground metro transport ( we call metro in Montreal what you call the tube in London and yes plenty stores and activity in Montreal's underground, it's like a second city layer ) , all the sewers and cables , not to mention high voltage power distribution to buildings etc etc .. you really think it's a good idea to even consider such a scheme ?

    Toss the whole thing in the recycling bin. Ain't gonna happen

    1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: Stupid idea that needs to go where stupid goes.

      No problem, just go really, really deep. May have a problem with tunnels breaking through into hidden caverns populated by mind-controlling aliens, and ancient races, but there's probably a fix for that.

      1. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: Stupid idea that needs to go where stupid goes.

        breaking through into hidden caverns populated by mind-controlling aliens, and ancient races, but there's probably a fix for that.

        We need to breed legions of mole-people to deal with the allans aliens and wacky ancient races. They could also build the tunnels...

        After that? Well, they can be just another ethnic group for the mail to complain about 'getting glasses prescriptions'.

        1. onefang Silver badge

          Re: Stupid idea that needs to go where stupid goes.

          "We need to breed legions of mole-people to deal with the allans aliens and wacky ancient races. They could also build the tunnels...

          "After that? Well, they can be just another ethnic group for the mail to complain about 'getting glasses prescriptions'."

          I think after that the get called morlocks.

  20. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Everyone else is worse

    Considering the California express train is now costing $77 BILLION and delayed another 5 years, nobody has the standing to laugh at Musk.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Everyone else is worse

      "Considering the California express train is now costing $77 BILLION and delayed another 5 years, nobody has the standing to laugh at Musk."

      ...and not forgetting Bostons "Big Dig"

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Everyone else is worse

      No, we can still laugh at Musk. His ideas are often "not even wrong".

      The bigger question in California is why do the politicians think that there is a need for a high speed ground transportation system between LA and SF? They haven't even explored a dedicated set of passenger railroad tracks so standard "higher" speed trains aren't stuck on sidings waiting for freight trains to clear the segment. In the US, RR tracks are owned predominately by the freight operators and are leased to passenger services at a lower priority.

      There is only one standard train each day between LA and SF (Oakland and then on by bus) that takes nearly 12 hours. It's around 6 hours to drive the 383 miles. A train that can make the trip in the same amount of time as driving would be amazing. Even more amazing if it were a daily service with several trains per day. One has to wonder if there were so much demand that a High Speed train or a vacuum train was needed there would be an overbooked regular rail service that couldn't keep up.

  21. Tigra 07 Silver badge
    Devil

    Musk's maths is probably correct when you remember that there's traffic on roads. Underground tunnels are going to be faster if there's no traffic. That's obvious.

    What happens when your underground bus breaks down is less clear though...

  22. Spudley

    So it seems to me that the Boring Company is just Musk having fun. He's playing. He's got a bit of spare money, and he's enjoying himself with it.

    SpaceX and Tesla are doing just fine. They're real companies with real prospects, real products and real shareholders. The Boring Company is just a game.

    That might change if/when SpaceX actually gets people on Mars, because tunnelling could be very useful for a colony on Mars. But that's for the future, Right now, it's just a pipe dream. (ehm, pun intended. sorry)

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    in London

    Good luck doing that in London, even the pros at this make mistakes.

    I remember them drilling to lay the new supports on Bridge in London (I am not allowed to name it), slight issue in that they drilled through a secret tunnel and flooded it! Not just any old tunnel either, special tunnel that links downing street to whitehall!

    1. rh587

      Re: in London

      I remember them drilling to lay the new supports on Bridge in London (I am not allowed to name it), slight issue in that they drilled through a secret tunnel and flooded it! Not just any old tunnel either, special tunnel that links downing street to whitehall!

      Intriguing. Remind me, just how many bridges are there between Downing Street and Whitehall?

      Not that the existence of tunnels beneath all the major Westminster establishments from Parliament up through the FCO, to the Admiralty and MoD is any secret (although the specific layout may be).

      I assume they punched through the far end of a tunnel that further along linked the two. One would be hard pressed to build a bridge along Whitehall itself...

    2. dgc03052

      Re: in London

      "Good luck doing that in London, even the pros at this make mistakes.

      I remember them drilling to lay the new supports on Bridge in London (I am not allowed to name it), slight issue in that they drilled through a secret tunnel and flooded it! Not just any old tunnel either, special tunnel that links downing street to whitehall!"

      Pretty close to what happened in the Chicago Flood - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago_flood. Putting in new pilings for a bridge, and hit a tunnel. From wikipedia: "cost the city an estimated $1.95 billion"

  24. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    Instead of slow elevators...

    Just have a vertical loop, with a full-gravity pause at the top. Anyone wanting out at a particular 'Musk bus stop' merely unbuckles their seatbelt and tumbles out the open roof into a big net. This approach would save a great deal of time compared to elevators.

    (Yes I know it's silly. But it's no sillier than the original concept.)

  25. ForthIsNotDead Silver badge

    No need to lift the things up to the surface...

    ...the meat bags can simply alight, and walk up stairs/escalators/lifts to the surface.

    You know. Like a tube station.

    Elon is building a tube system, that's not as good as a tube system, because instead of the train/bus/whatever being stationary for, what, 20 seconds, as they currently are, his will be stationary (and backing up any traffic behind them) for much longer than that.

    It's a step backwards, not forwards. Loose the stupid "raising the vehicle to the surface" bollocks which looks cool, but is actually a bollocks idea, and build a fucking station and be done with it.

    Oh wait a minute....

    WE ALREADY HAVE THEM!

  26. Locky Silver badge
    Gimp

    Is Elon "Lyle Lanley" in disguise

    Monorail!

  27. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Dont most cities already have somewhere like this

    I'm assuming he's calling them 'Suck Stops'.

  28. Mattyandkat

    Miss

    Tomorrow land thanks to @elonmusk

  29. spold Bronze badge

    Coming soon...

    >>But then Musk has expressed his dislike for aspects of conventional public transport – it forces people to be in proximity of each other. And that stranger might be a "serial killer".

    So I'm guessing the next breakthrough will be the Boring Personal People Transporter - that might look suspiciously like a bicycle...

    Can you ride tandem? ... if you dare...

    (behind you! behind you!)

    1. Korev Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Coming soon...

      "Can you ride tandem?"

      Yes, NonStop

  30. Stuart Elliott

    All this negativity

    People should be happy there's someone out there TRYING to do stuff like this, yeah, some of his ideas may come off as goofy and he loses money on it, so what, it's better that than people hoarding their money for their name on a plaque in an obscure park somewhere.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Quite spectacular how many people (including the article author) have missed the point...

    It's not a frigging bus and it's not a frigging tube/metro/whatever.

    A bus/tube goes along its route/line and if your destination is not on that route then you have to get off at some point and wait for and get on another one (or two or three.)

    This thing switches between the tunnels and traverses the network to take you straight (well, straight-ish) to your destination with no need to stop on the way (or just a few times depending on how successfully it groups passengers.)

    A closer analogy would be Uber-Ride-Share-but-restricted-to-main-roads. Or, imagine if you got into a tube station and stated where your destination was and were told to get in to the 3rd carriage and then that carriage ended up at the station you wanted regardless of whether it was on the same line (and all the other carriages ended up in different places with their passengers.) That would be quite awesome, yes?

    So if you want to criticise then consider the practicality of switching between tunnels, power delivery, handling congestion, whether it will be easy to group people together with similar destinations, maintenance, maximum throughput down each tunnel, what if everyone wants to go to the same place, etc.

    But don't keep saying "But that's a bus. Hurr hurr" - because it makes you look like an idiot.

    1. web_bod

      Re: Quite spectacular how many people (including the article author) have missed the point...

      So not even as good as a taxi then?

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Quite spectacular how many people (including the article author) have missed the point...

      "This thing switches between the tunnels and traverses the network to take you straight (well, straight-ish) to your destination with no need to stop on the way (or just a few times depending on how successfully it groups passengers.)"

      You have described PRT, which is generally run above ground at a much lower price to build. I have a hard time believing that installing a Sh**ton of elevators that can accommodate a passenger van is going to be cost effective.

  32. Trollslayer Silver badge
    Flame

    Looks nice

    Just like getting people to Mars.

    Without oxygen, water, volatile or organic compounds - oh, and radiation shielding may not be too easy.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Build the new transport infrastructure & services at street level then back-fill with trash, slab over with concrete and sell to developers as a blank canvas.

  34. martinusher Silver badge

    I have a job for him

    We're currently spending years and a fortune extending the Purple Line subway in Los Angeles. If Mr. Musk can build transportation tunnels in next to no time and at low cost then I'm pretty sure that there's a few people who'd like to talk to him. After all, all he needs to do is to run his prototype tunnel up a bit, make a right and it would connect with the subway system.

    While he's about it he might have noticed the ongoing work on light rail around LAX (the airport). That's 'just up the road' from his facility. If he could spend a couple of weeks extending the Green Line into LAX then he'd save us all a whole bunch of time and money. (While he's about it he could bore a couple of tunnels through the Supelvda Pass, that's also just up the road. Its been a subject of a lot of planning -- see "Supelvda Pass Transit Corridor". For those that don't live in the area its currently the home to the 405 freeway, several miles of a five lanes a side traffic jam.)(That was widened just recently at -- well, I don't want to think about how much it cost, it hurts.)

  35. steviebuk Silver badge

    What I find funny is...

    ...if Steve Jobs had said this. Everyone would be calling him a genius and how he's so amazing inventing this new thing called a bus stop. They'll claim the "things" before where "shelters" not Apple Bus Stops. The almighty and holy Steve does bring us the amazing "Bus Stop". On the 8th day the chavs came along and smashed all the windows.

    1. onefang Silver badge

      Re: What I find funny is...

      'They'll claim the "things" before where "shelters" not Apple iBus Stops. The almighty and holy Steve does bring us the amazing "iBus Stop"'

      FTFY

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Gimp

    I can get a car to drop me outside the front door

    folding it into a suitcase is still in development.

  37. gd47

    Yet another lost opportunity for fast transport links in the UK...

    http://www.ousewashes.info/experiments/hovertrain.htm

    (Add to Brunel's Atmospheric Railway, Birmingham's Maglev, etc. etc.)

  38. mrjohn

    e long bus ?

  39. Wzrd1

    Quick, someone take Elon to the underground.

    Have him inspect the rails very, very closely...

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      "So he plans 30 levels of 'bus' tube - if we allow 5m of height per level, that's a tunnel 150m high and about 5m wide."

      Elon's very good at copying things. The father of American rocketry, Robert Goddard, married a pretty smart lady. She held the patent for Elon's Hyperloop about 100 years ago. Wonder why the whole thing is "open source"?

  40. Ian Johnston Silver badge

    Rockets, monorails, tunnels ... Mr Musk seems to be going though the Evil Overlord List and ticking off the items in order. Coming soon: computer operators in his command centre will face the door.

    1. TheSirFin

      Frickin' lasers

      Brilliant! You just need to add a "giant frickin' Moon LASER" to his list, and he needs to start dressing like Dr Evil! oh, and he also needs a few pet, ill tempered sea bass as pets!

  41. Carpet Deal 'em
    Headmaster

    If the busses could borrow the rails

    Then there may be a point after all. If the elevators move fast enough, a bus could pop down to dodge unruly traffic, for example. And if there's no direct route between two tube/metro/subway stations, a bus could stop at one station and take overland people to the next without any special effort on their part. Since vehicle already exist that can switch from road to rail(primarily for railroad maintenance), this isn't impossible - though, again, this all depends on the practicality of getting the busses up and down quickly enough.

    But Musk's specific idea is definitely crap.

    1. onefang Silver badge

      Re: If the busses could borrow the rails

      "this all depends on the practicality of getting the busses up and down quickly enough."

      And a steady supply of barf bags, and inflatable casts for the brittle of bone.

  42. John Savard Silver badge

    Originality

    Clearly he did not just reinvent the bus stop. Bus stops don't involve large holes in the road that open up, to the detriment of illegally parked cars, and into which pedestrians might fall.

    So his idea has other novel features besides increased dwell time.

    However, the fact that his underground buses are not sharing the road with cars, and thus not taking up space on the roadways, is one feature that actually is a benefit, even if it seems hard to envisage how it could justify the capital cost of so much underground tunnelling. So one could eliminate the dis-advantages of his scheme by re-inventing the subway station.

    Incidentally, in my home city of Edmonton, Alberta, we are adding rapid transit in the form of trains with tracks laid along existing roads, to be taken out of automotive service. This makes those roads more difficult for pedestrians to cross. But the high cost of tunnelling has forced grade separations to be kept to a minimum. This inspired me to come up with an invention to revolutionize public transportation.

    Instead of digging a tunnel deep underground, just dig a wide ditch, and lay the tracks at the bottom of it. Then cover the top with metal grillwork of the sort which makes up the roadway surface of a bridge. That should be cheaper than a real tunnel. Of course, it needs storm sewers at the bottom so as not to get flooded when it rains.

  43. old_nic

    Shouldn't this be a "storey" (poor joke) about lifts rather than buses? Could someone explain why it is better to take a whole bus that goes up and down rather than a lift

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