May 15, 2024
Fort Lauderdale accepts proposal for Elon Musk's Tesla beach tunnel

Fort Lauderdale accepts proposal for Elon Musk’s Tesla beach tunnel

The Boring Company would offer rides in Teslas to hundreds of people a day for $5-8 per person, the city’s leaders have said before. A similar ride in an Uber would cost about $10 per trip at current prices, according to Uber’s ride price estimator.
“This could be a truly innovative way to reduce traffic congestion,” Mayor Dean Trantalis said Tuesday night, announcing the plan, though the costs to the city were initially undisclosed. He said other firms will have 45 days to submit competing proposals.

The project will be dubbed “The Las Olas Loop,” a reference to a local road that connects to the beach. The Boring Company offers a transit system called the Loop, in which people in standard Teslas are driven from station to station in tunnels. Its first project opened last month at the Las Vegas Convention Center. There are plans to extend the system through more of Las Vegas.

But Loop has also drawn criticism from transportation planners, who say that using cars as a mode of public transit makes inefficient use of a tunnel, which could carry a lot more people with a train or bus.

If the Boring Company carries hundreds of passengers a day, as Trantalis has said before, that would be fewer riders than about half of each of Broward County Transit’s bus lines, which operate in Fort Lauderdale.

Why one Florida city wants to build a two-mile tunnel to the beach

The local government envisions the Las Olas Loop as a way to alleviate parking stress at its beach. Drivers will be able to park cars at the downtown Brightline train station, which offers intercity rail service around Florida, and then ride in a Tesla to the beach.

“This is the type of big, bold idea that we should be exploring,” Ben Porritt, a Brightline spokesperson, told CNN Business. “Good transportation is ultimately about the functionality of a city.”

The Boring Company has promised to radically reduce tunneling expenses, which can cost governments as much as a billion dollars a mile, making many projects unaffordable.

Florida has only two tunnel projects in the state and its limestone makes it hard to optimize a tunneling machine, due to the natural holes in it, according to tunnel experts. The state also has underground aquifers, which need to be protected.

Trantalis said this spring that the Boring Company and the city were studying the local geology to determine what path to take to the beach. Fort Lauderdale and the Boring Company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Fort Lauderdale has not released specifics of the Boring Company plan, saying in a news release this month that state law prohibits doing so until the competitive process is complete.