The Convention Center Loop features three passenger stations, 62 Tesla Model 3s and Xs, and a cross-LVCC journey time of just under two minutes
Tune into almost any Elon Musk interview or live panel and chances are, at some point, the future-minded billionaire entrepreneur will bring up tunnels. He's even been accused of being tunnel-obsessed—"Elon Musk has tunnel fever," opines The Drive, which points out that Musk has been consistently talking about tunnels since a 2015 appearance on a Neil DeGrasse Tyson radio show, where he said: "If you were to extrapolate that to cars, and have more car tunnels, then you would alleviate congestion completely. You would not need a flying car in that case."
In fact, Musk became so interested in tunnels that, in December 2016, he founded The Boring Company—that's boring as in making holes, not boring as in dull—a company dedicated to building tunnels.
Tunnels seem obvious when Musk explains their benefits. On the company's website, he lays out the argument in layman's terms: "To solve the problem of soul-destroying traffic, roads must go 3D, which means either flying cars or tunnels are needed. Unlike flying cars, tunnels are weatherproof, out of sight, and won't fall on your head. Tunnels minimize usage of valuable surface land and do not conflict with existing transportation systems. A large network of tunnels can alleviate congestion in any city; no matter how large a city grows, more levels of tunnels can be added."
Just last week, Musk and The Boring Company unveiled—guess what—an innovative new tunnel built 40 feet below-ground in Las Vegas. The structure, which was built in record time, comprises two one-way tunnels that are designed to efficiently move people around the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), stopping at three passenger stations, and connecting the existing LVCC to its expanded 1.4 million square foot West Hall campus. For anyone who's ever experienced life as a conventioneer in Las Vegas, the new tunnel presents an attractive and welcome mode of transport—a neat alternative to the usual walk-taxi-Uber-shuttle-monorail mix-and-match.
"We are excited to have partnered with Elon’s company to bring this transportation 'first' to our valued convention customers," says Steve Hill, president and CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, which funded the tunnel. "The expanded Loop system, when developed, will be a gamechanger and a new ‘must experience’ attraction for our visitors."
Here are eight things to know about Elon Musk's new Convention Center Loop tunnel in Las Vegas. We can't wait to try it out on our next trip to Sin City.
- The Convention Center Loop was funded by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) and cost approximately US$52.5 million.
- The three passenger stations are South Station, east of the South Hall at the LVCC; Central Station, by Central Hall at the LVCC; and West Station, just west of West Hall at the LVCC.
- The cars that transport passengers throughout the Convention Center Loop are all Teslas, naturally. At launch, the vehicles in use will be the Tesla Model 3 and the Tesla Model X. Each vehicle can carry up to five passengers (three passengers under Covid-19 social distancing guidelines).
- The cars are currently staffed with drivers but, in the future, will be self-driving.
- The Convention Center Loop system can transport 4,400 passengers per hour, utilizing 62 Teslas traveling at between 35 and 40 miles per hour.
- Each tunnel is approximately 0.8 miles long.
- Transport time from one side of the convention center to the other through the tunnel will take less than two minutes, compared to upwards of 25 minutes on foot.
- A designated command center will monitor the Convention Center Loop for safety.