“After a year’s worth of digging, Elon Musk’s The Boring Company has completed the second tunnel for its underground people-mover system at the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC). It’s keeping in step with an anticipated opening date in January 2021—just in time for the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES). So far, the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic hasn’t yet altered these plans.
Back in May 2019, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority Board of Directors first approved the contract, and by February 2020, The Boring Company had completed the first tunnel. Overall, the goal is to “provide fast and convenient transportation for convention and trade show attendees across the LVCC campus,” according to The Boring Company.
Under normal circumstances, it takes about 15 minutes to walk from the convention center’s New Exhibit Hall to the other side of the campus—something Musk’s company claims it can cut down to a humble one-minute commute.
When complete, the Las Vegas Loop will consist of three stations across the convention center grounds. In the subterranean tunnel system, The Boring Company plans to carry groups of 12 to 16 passengers in pods constructed with modified Tesla chassises. At speeds of up to 155 miles per hour, these adapted Model 3 and Model X trams will have the capacity to transport about 4,000 visitors per hour, said Steve Hill, the CEO and president of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, in an interview with The Verge.
Hill said the pods will one day operate through the tunnels autonomously (Musk’s company refers to them as autonomous electric vehicles, or AEVs), but will use human drivers at the outset. “Whenever we get to the point where we know that [it’s safe to let the vehicles drive themselves],” Hill said, “that’s when we’ll take that step. But there is not a deadline for making that happen.”
Although Hill said the project hasn’t been delayed by the pandemic, if the CES is canceled next year, both The Boring Company and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority will wait to debut the underground shuttle system to the public until the next available trade show.
When it does eventually open, Hill said the system will be a free service for convention center goers. However, he did point out the Las Vegas Loop isn’t meant to serve as public transportation.
“It’s here for the benefit of the [trade] shows, so it’ll ramp up capability while [they’re] here,” he said. “Between those times, it’ll ramp way back down to a car or two available if somebody needs one.”
So what’s next? Construction will focus on the above-ground passenger stations on each end of the tunnel system, along with a third underground stop toward the center of the Loop.”