On Thursday night, Elon Musk shed some light on how The Boring Company plans to start dealing with California’s “soul-destroying traffic.” During a Q&A session at the Leo Baeck Temple in Los Angeles, the tech mogul made it clear that he’s determined to carve another proof-of-concept tunnel spanning 2.7 miles parallel to a major highway in the LA-area. This would allow the company to lay the groundwork for a “personalized mass transit” system, which supposedly could get 16 people per pod from Downtown LA to Los Angeles International Airport in eight minutes. Not so boring after all.
But there are two big things standing in Musk’s way: “600 pages” of permits and gaining the support of the general public. His solution: Probably a whole lot more Q&As and public relations appearances in the hopes of buddying up to the city, county, and state officials that will be deciding the fate of this proposed tunnel. Slightly more boring.
“Sometimes people wonder, ‘Hey are they just going and building this crazy tunnel and nobody is even looking at it and they’re seeking exemption from all oversite?’ That is not the case, there are a zillion permits that need to be approved for this tunnel,” says Musk.
The Boring Company has already secured a partnership with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The announcement was made on LA Metro’s Twitter and was shared by Musk hours before the Q&A session. This eliminated the concern that the tunneling company’s plans would interfere with LA Metro’s own plans to construct a subway channel.
These are the types of relations The Boring Company will need to continue to cultivate in order to make its vision of an “underground multilevel car system” a reality. But attempts to streamline this project have been met with resistance from local neighborhood groups.
Two organizations have filed a joint lawsuit alleging that the local government violated state law when it exempted the Boring Company’s 2.7-mile tunnel from an environmental safety review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
Musk mentioned up how “safe” and “quiet” the company’s tunneling activities are multiple times throughout the session as if he was reassuring the 750 people in attendance and the thousands watching online. But nothing summed up what Musk was trying to get at with this community center meeting more than his closing statement.
“[This] could only happen with public support. So if we could ask for your support that would be great. I really appreciate it,” he said.
It seems like the future of the Boring Company’s next test tunnel lies squarely on how well Musk can finesse his PR connections. Not exactly rocket science, but maybe a little harder than just digging a hole.