The entrance to Boring Co.’s tunnel loop in Las Vegas.

The entrance to Boring Co.’s tunnel loop in Las Vegas. Photo by Stephen Morgan

Elon Musk’s Boring Co. is about to get its first real-world test as its 4-mile, $52.5 million tunnel loop opens to the public this week underneath the huge Las Vegas Convention Center campus.

The first-of-its-kind tunnel loop project will open on June 8, simultaneously with a concrete industry convention that marks the first in-person convention gathering in the nation since the Covid-19 pandemic hit 15 months ago. Passengers will be whisked along the underground loop in a fleet of Tesla vehicles.


Hawthorne-based Boring Co. actually finished construction on the tunnel loop two months ago when it was unveiled for the first time in a public media tour. But with no conventioneers, it has sat mostly unused since.

 
Total construction time was roughly 18 months, which is regarded as a quick turnaround time for a tunnel project of this magnitude.


“We’re grateful to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and all local stakeholders for providing us the opportunity to construct our first commercial project in one of the world’s most dynamic destinations,” Boring Co. President Steve Davis said in a statement issued for the media tour. “We are proud to have developed and delivered an exciting transportation solution to the Las Vegas Convention Center.”
The loop consists of two one-way vehicular tunnels about 40 feet underground, each about 0.8 miles long. The tunnels connect the existing Convention Center campus with a new 1.4-million-square-foot exhibition and convention building also opening this week.

 
There are three passenger stations — one near each end of the existing convention halls and the third under the new hall expansion. Passengers will be able to traverse the entire route in roughly two minutes at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour, about one-tenth the time it would take on foot.


In size and scope, the Convention Center loop project is similar to the mini-subway system under the U.S. Capitol complex, but with one major difference. The Capitol system operates on a fixed-rail guideway with subway cars, not free-flowing passenger vehicles.


At maximum operation, Boring Co. plans to bring in a fleet of 62 Tesla electric vehicles capable of holding five people each, with a transport capacity of about 4,400 people per hour.


But as the tunnel loop opens this week, there will be considerably fewer vehicles, and the maximum capacity per vehicle will be limited to three because of Covid social distancing restrictions. And, for safety reasons, each Tesla vehicle will have a driver, even though initial plans called for the vehicles to be fully automated.


Boring Co. will be under some pressure to bring the system up to its full operating capacity as quickly as possible once Covid restrictions are lifted.


Under its $48.6 million contract with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, Boring Co. gets dinged up to $300,000 each time it falls short of the contract’s stated goal of transporting 3,960 passengers per hour for 13 hours during major conventions — with a maximum penalty of $4.5 million.

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