$75 Million Boring Airport Tunnel Gets Approval Versus $1.5 Billion Light Rail Extension

A San Bernardino County transportation agency voted Wednesday, June 3, for a Elon Musk’s The Boring Co. proposal for a high-speed tunnel linking Rancho Cucamonga with Ontario International Airport.

The Boring Company proposal would build a 2.8-mile tunnel, 14 feet in diameter and about 35 feet underground. It would take passengers in electric vehicles with rubber tires traveling up to 127 mph to and from the airport. Each ride would take about 90 seconds to two minutes.

Boring Company and Tesla are develop electric vans for up to 12 people and their luggage. The tunnel system would be able to move 1,200 people per day, or 10 million-plus per year.

The Ontario Airport Loop project has a cost range of between $45 million and $60 million, said Carrie Schindler, SBCTA director of transit and rail. Total cost will be about $75 million when adding an operations center, management services and paying operators prevailing wages, Schindler said.

This is 15 times less than a $1- to $1.5-billion light-rail extension from Pomona and could be built in three to four years rather than the 10 years it would take to extend the light-rail.

SOURCES- Mercury News, Boring Company
Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com

69 thoughts on “$75 Million Boring Airport Tunnel Gets Approval Versus $1.5 Billion Light Rail Extension”

  1. UG utilities take much less damage from weather events than OH. UG utilities results in less fatalities from car accidents. OH facilities are a much bigger eyesore.

  2. PG&E has this problem with the power lines over kindling-rich forests. If they could build a 1-meter, or even a 3-meter tunnel inexpensively they would have a pretty attractive solution to this problem. I heard about a 3-man team being killed in a helicopter accident a couple weeks ago, it is very very expensive ongoing maintenance for PG&E.

  3. “Relegating all behavioral phenomena related to power to a neurosis” no, just the unreal/unnatural, the stuff that goes away with cure. Dramatic individual differences, too. But overall, people are as crazy as they can possibly be. The death (or biologically equal lack of reproduction) inherent in the System infesting humans is only limited by enuf death to kill the host society. This has been going on for ~7 million years. Our evolution cannot possibly keep up with the growth and evolution of the System, especially with modern language. This tech allows us to be even crazier before wiping out. How else to explain our large brain? The proof is in what happens when the Primal experiment is performed. Epigenetic changes that are only now being postulated in ACE studies have been reversed strongly in Primal therapy for many years. Check it out!

  4. I dunno. Some people just have a very strong drive to “win” and to “be right”. They can be raised in great comfort and care, and still just like to come out on top. Again, it just feels good, it’s exhilarating. The world has plenty of people like this. Not all such leaders have a childhood history of abuse. I would say the issue is that they were conditioned to expect status and privilege and not conditioned enough to exercise compassion, and so they just don’t notice that they are causing other people distress. Dacher Keltner’s book “The Power Paradox” speaks directly to this. Sure, the exhilaration can cause addiction, but that’s from the pleasure centers as much as to counter pain. And yes, there are huge numbers of people who are trying to resolve their childhood experiences through dominating others. At the same time “normal” people reflexively fight back against almost any challenge to their authority or autonomy. I’ve experienced this countless times in my career, as I’m sure you have too. We may be doing it right now in this discussion. Relegating all behavioral phenomena related to power to a neurosis doesn’t account for observed behavior and suggests few avenues for constructive action, as well as narrowing the concept of power in such a way that it leaves whole swathes of behavior with no clear identifier.

  5. What you say would be accepted by many if not most. The difference in humans, from the similar behaviors in Chimps, is that power addiction is an addiction, thus relies on repression, which relies on Pain, inflicted by our System. Often not normal! Primal is an experimental science, so you simply observe what goes away when repression/neurosis is cured, and that stuff was therefore neurotic, for that individual. Such successful Primal patients have a “live and let live” attitude, BTW.

  6. An alternative view is that “power acquisition” which includes dominance, is an intrinsic “drive” in the human psyche, so not neurotic. The power drive is balanced by another drive, compassion (*love*, or altruistic interest in other people’s well-being). Rather than =creating= power-related behavior, conditioning determines whether power or compassion prevails in each individual and in each situation.

  7. What you say is certainly true of chimps, for instance. The Alpha male ram, whatever. Humans torture their children, individually and collectively, such that repression sets in, far more than Goodall observes in Chimps, such that the patterns of repression/ritual have an evolving life form of their own, feeding off of unmet needs that are inherent in infants esp. The System that causes the most Pain simply eclipses the lesser energized forms, so the worst stuff survives to next generation. This has been going on for ~7 million years, since we split from Chimp-like ancestor. It requires smarts to keep the System organized, but it requires a huge brain to handle the load of Pain without going down for various reasons, what we popularly call *mental illness*, actually the failure of repression. Successful repression is Neurosis, a Janov term of art, not mental health, as talk therapy shows in its abject failure to cure. If humans were *normal* animals, without the System on their backs, we would have achieved Darwinian *fitness* with control of fire, and no pressure means no evolution. Yet our brain continued to grow extremely fast, trying to fend off psychosis or whatever. Fortunately, our genes have responded, slowly in comparison to how fast our rituals evolve, esp since language became so powerful. (Various religious stuff would be examples here.) Our genes’ response? A *counterforce* (“What?”) to the BS, which I call *love*.

  8. Unfortunately dominance over other people feels too good. Even healthy people relish a high school football team win. It seems like it requires bith stopping reinforcement and training away from.

  9. Underground utilities are already used in some cases. It’s much more expensive to install, not to mention maintain.

  10. I would guess that scraping down the side of a tunnel wall at high speed is actually safer that spearing off the road into trees, power poles and on-coming traffic if you get a similar blowout on a normal high speed road.

  11. Maybe when Tesla builds buses, these can be run through the tunnels to offer more throughput. Perhaps even Tesla cars themselves could be used with a ride-sharing service. These methods would be best, because you don’t want just any old badly-maintained vehicle traveling through the tunnels and suffering a breakdown to block up everything.

  12. Come on – he’s trying to upgrade the infrastructure near where he lives, so that he doesn’t have to be stuck in “soul-destroying traffic” as he phrased it.
    The rest of society can hang along for his ride to benefit.

  13. Construction and public works are conservative fields, and rightly so. People’s lives and safety are involved. So they are taking a “wait and see” attitude towards cheap tunnels.
    Imagine you are running this county agency, and the tunnel later collapses and kills people. That’s pretty much a career-ender. So other agencies would rather someone else try it out first rather than jumping in themselves.

  14. Under grounding electric utilities sounds like a good idea… personally I get sick of looking at electric poles everywhere…

  15. It’s not about cheap. It’s about providing choice, flexibility, productivity, opportunity, and freedom to some our most valuable members of society: ‘car drivers’, which then in turn creates wealth, service/ product diversity, increased city services, and those valuable left-wing values such as ‘social justice’/ diversity/ work flexibility, which for some reason, many think are cheap, easy, and ubiquitous, not the reality of hyper-expensive to set-up and costly to maintain. I hate to create a transit-bike vs car discussion, because these wonderful tunnels will actually give everyone what they want without this destructive us-vs-them BS, but many studies have shown that those who own, run, and use regularly a car: have higher salaries, more career ambition, greater interest in purchasing products/ services, give larger amounts to charity, and just about every other good capitalist metric out there. Its not about being Gordon gecko, its about being a useful contributor to this very expensive and demanding modern western world. I use my bike twice a week, but the reality is that it is slow, disruptive to pedestrians and cars except under rigorous and difficult urban planning initiatives, cannot safely be used by regs in rain, snow, and night; is annoying to park and clean myself-up in an office. And cyclists are not even great people: they blow through traffic signage, cut each other off, menace pedestrians, refuse to be licensed or plated – they are either oblivious or rogue.

  16. I have nothing specifically against the hyper-hedonistic imperative of many north-Europeans, way-Left west coasters, and their ilk, who believe that anti-car sentiment will somehow make the world a better place, but in the Top 5 ways in creating enough income to run a mid- to large-size city is to allow significant parking, use, and access to single-person vehicles throughout all urban areas. To facilitate the ‘only concept in the world that really matters’: PERSONAL CHOICE, is to allow these cars to get where they want to go sooner and quicker. Tunnels that enable personal car use will increase the efficiency, income-generation, and choice of all Urban users.

  17. It’s a lot cheaper to move people round a city if they’re not each encased in a ton of armour with wheels at the corners. And it seems to me that if you do it in small, computer-controlled capsules, it should be cheaper to put them on rails up above the traffic, rather than burrowing thirty metres beneath it. Haven’t seen it done, yet, but the same applies to this Musk brainwave. Should be a few orders of magnitude safer than flying taxis, too – and quieter.

  18. They are just completing a big tunnel in my hometown so that I can ride to work in the fresh air and sunshine with all the big trucks going underground.

    And the trucks pay to use the tunnel because it’s faster for them, and time is money.

    That’s the way.

  19. Supposedly, they are now on their third generation of custom made tunnel machines, “Prufrock”. It’s supposed to dig at least 10 times faster than run-of-the-mill tunneling machines [1]. In the source below, it is alleged that tunnels usually cost a billion USD per mile, so 75 million for 2.8 miles seem very cheap.

    It is just a question of the Boring Company not being able to show sufficient experience with commercial projects, or is it something else? They are clearly not “taking off”…


  20. What happens if a tire blows out in the tunnel at 127 mph? I’m thinking that could get real ugly.

  21. I think Musk has indicated there will be service tunnels. If the two tunnels are parallel, regular access doors can enable the other tunnel to be used as an escape.

  22. No, I think it is a typo. They meant 1200 per hour, which more closely squares with the 10M/year figure. There will be multiple vehicles and parallel berths, so boarding/alighting can happen offline without affecting system throughput. Just the one tunnel per direction.

    Why don’t we want to see how it works. Big-dumb-slow transit fans always want to drown attempts at innovation in the bathtub. Musk has some out there ideas, and not all of them pan out, but people said it was crazy to land orbital rocket boosters and it could not be done. This is a fairly low cost gamble. If this works and proves cost effective, it will be an unalloyed Good Thing for the things transit fans care about: getting cars off of streets and making cities more walkable and bike friendly

  23. 12 person vehicle at 50% average capacity at 200 vehicles per hour is 1200 pax per hour. 200 vehicles per hour is one per 18 seconds. Not exactly crowded.

    I remain skeptical about Elon’s plans for crazy high speeds. If you have a blowout in the tunnel it seems like you would have a very bad day. However, I guess if these are captive vehicles as opposed to Elon’s original idea for tunnels for private vehicles, the tires etc. could be spec’ed for higher performance.

    This is basically just a kind of PRT / GRT. Elon has slowly, very slowly had this idea dawn on him. Maybe he’ll figure out the rest, soon (that elevated vehicles/track may work in some circumstances, and a smaller/lighter vehicle is an option.

  24. Thats why I loved the public transport tubes in Futurama! 
    They were only 18″ widewith no extra mass to accelerate.

  25. Just need some completed tunnels to gain public confidence. It’ll get big once people have a chance to ride in one.

  26. At the risk of rioting transit-first-wienies, I like the idea of increasing the number of car priority lanes (tunnels) that get around a city rather than just deleting them through surface transit and bike lane initiatives – everyone should have the opportunity to get wherever they want, however they want, subject to pricing/ market pressures of course.

  27. Definitely be some growing pains to this. It’s probably most convenient if you stay in your own car – don’t the early videos show a parking space at the side of the road that just drops your car into the tunnel? Also, to save 10 – 30+ minutes from just driving the same way on surfaces road (less than 3 miles – heavy traffic spikes?), many would line-up/ pile-up behind the access point to the tunnel for at least that long. I can’t see the 12-person shuttle thing working unless people park/ transit nearby (infrastructure!) and the shuttle is inserted into the tunnel ‘queue’ of vehicles. I suppose we could make it transit-like shuttles only, but to me the big benefits of these tunnels is to create a VIP lane (tunnel) to high demand destinations without leaving the comfort of your car, which of course requires the parking on the other end. As with most urban route expansions you have to make sure that the inlet can take the load and the outlet can manage the extra vehicles/ passengers.

  28. You’re quite right about all of that. Though, I want to travel to other planeta just because I think it’d be great fun if done right. But if there wasn’t a #muskworld on Twitter, there is now!

  29. I just checked up, the London underground uses some tunnels that are less than 12′ in diameter. Of course they were mostly hand dug many years ago.

  30. On a serious note, we can stop white racism by stopping baby and child abuse of white children, then they will not be neurotic, thus not racist, adults.

  31. I wonder if they are really cheaper? I have not seen any particulars, but I presume they use pretty much the same tech as everybody else, they are just drilling much smaller tunnels than the ones we are used to. Which is obviously good enough for the intended purpose.
    You could send a shipping container through the pipe, but not on an 18 wheeler. 
    I have been on the London tube a couple of times, and I see that some of their subway tunnels are less than 12′ diameter, so 14′ should be pretty good. 
    For comparison the euro tunnel between England and France consists of two tubes of 25′ and a service tunnel of 16′ diameter. 
    Tunnelling can blow the budget very quickly in difficult ground.

  32. 1200/day is peanuts. This is the number in the original source document too, but in a confusing paragraph: “Originally, the proposal called for specially designed Tesla cars. But
    Hagman said the company is working with Tesla to develop electric vans that can seat up to 12 people and their luggage, enlarging the capacity to 1,200 people per day, or 10 million-plus per year.”
    1200 X 365 days is only 438,000 so either someone is lying or is really terrible at math.
    If 1200/day is the right figure – and it probably is, given transfer times for people and their luggage on both ends (is the tunnel two-way? Are there multiple tunnels? Is there a parking lot in Rancho Cacamonga, train stop, or…?) – that has to be much less than a good light rail system would deliver, even if the light rail moves at 1/2 of the speed (the tunnel speed is “up to” 127mph; you can’t go to that instantly without giving people whiplash, or slow down from that without throwing people out of their seats either. Will there be seat belts in the bus? What is the time to belt oneself in?).
    This is mostly hype, a luxury transport for those able to afford it, not a real mass transit system.

  33. Why is the boring company not drilling tunnels all over the world, given that they are so much cheaper? Why only this one location? What are we missing?

  34. Probably MORE than quadratic. Because in addition to the immediate cost, the biggest cause of cost blowouts in much civil engineering is the years and years of delays, which leads to costs doubling, and doubling again. Then a new government gets in, changes the plans, the price goes up AGAIN.
    AND with associated years and years of disruption to everyone else.
    The Boring solution is not just cheaper, it’s much faster. So it leaves much less time for politics to go wrong.

  35. Tunnels aren’t exactly a new technology.
    People have been travelling though tunnels for thousands of years. I travelled through one last night. It’s not something we need to panic about because nobody has thought of things like how to deal with a crash.

  36. They can walk to the airport.

    Assuming such people would be able to deal with flying in an aeroplane in the first place.

  37. If the video was accurate I think the trip will freak some people out. Having stuff flash by a few feet away from you in a tunnel at 120+ mph will feel kind of disorienting and distrubing.

  38. Rights of way, modifications to existing infrastructure, runs slower so you need more/bigger cars for a given volume of traffic. And more I suspect.

  39. The vans might as well charge between every run, since they have to stop and let passengers off and on. For a trip of only 2.8mi, even at high speed, they could probably get by with just 3kWhr of batteries – very small compared to a typical BEV. Supercharging rates could easily ‘refill’ that battery during the time it is stopped – say 3 minutes.

    With 2 vans running, you could have one in the tunnel nearly all the time, alternating directions. But you could probably run six of them through at a time in one direction to get higher passenger volume – separated by a half mile (15 seconds at 120mph) and electronically linked so they’ll have plenty of braking time if necessary. They could all get through in about 3 minutes. At full capacity, 24-7-365 that would be enough to get over 10M through a year.

  40. Yah the article is obviously wrong. But 1200 per HOUR x 24 x 365 = 10.5 million per year.

  41. If they put a strobe light on top of the van, they could so some neat animation effects just using static images on the walls…

  42. They need some animatronics, go Disneyland all the way. That thing is basically a roller-coaster.

  43. We should not just be thinking about cheap tunnels for moving people around. I think there is way more value in Musk’s tunnels for freight, sewer, water, gas, power cables etc.

    Does anyone know what percentage of city road usage is attributed to freight transport? Imagine being able to move shipping containers from a city port to a distribution center without having to haul the cargo above ground.

  44. Rancho Cucamonga has a large extension of the Ontario Airport industrial zone. That will be the destination for a lot of travelers. Pomona by comparison is largely residential. Light rail tears up the streets, requiring a lot of detailed work and impacting local commerce. Tunnels skip all that.

  45. My hope is that the entire Earth will eventually be converted to Musk world. Then we won’t even need to go to Mars to have a fantastic life experience. Sure, I still might want to go to Mars for a visit, but life will become much more pleasant of Earth.

  46. Hopefully a 14′ tunnel is narrow enough that when a fire occurs the oxygen will be used up quickly enough to prevent passengers from being burned to death while waiting for emergency services to walk in.

  47. You are wrong on some details. You seem to believe that the tunnel will be used for personal cars, but that is wrong. Special 12-passenger vans will be developed for the project. But even with the vehicles being provided as part of the system, the tunnel estimate is a lot less than the light rail proposal estimate. I don’t know why there is such a large difference in cost, or whether the actual cost would end up being close to the estimated cost. All I’m saying is that you seem to misunderstand some details of the tunnel proposal.

  48. The biggest cost driver is the diameter of the tunnel. A light rails needs a wider tunnel, and the cost grows quadratic with the diameter.

  49. It seems like Boring Co is not so much of a solution for citywide travel as it is for traveling across a property, like an airport or convention center.

  50. These are not equivalent transportation choices. Slight of hand here. There are different outcomes from each choice, but let’s not confuse these two choices as equal. Cost per passenger and volume matter to some degree.

  51. 1200 persons per day? – probably less as many will prefer to be in their own vehicle? Each light-rail train of at least 8 cars probably carries a quarter of that how often – a few times an hour? yes 15x times cheaper but maybe 100x less capacity? I think it’s only real value is as an experiment for bigger plans with multiple levels and various track types. Also, 1200 / day doesn’t rally get close to 10M/yr. – maybe 1200 / hr?

  52. The tunnel is cheaper, because the “cars” for the tunnel are purchased by individuals, thus the only maintenance and labor costs are on the system to move cars. No need to buy a train engine with train cars for passengers, nor is there a need for a conductor or others to man the train… Maybe I’m wrong, but the tunnel system seems as if it would be cheaper.

  53. Why is the light rail so expensive? Couldn’t some light rail be run through the same sort of tunnel?

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