Tunnel Vision: What It's Like to Ride in Elon Musk's Vegas Loop – PCMag

The free-for-now service whisks convention-goers between ends of Las Vegas meeting space.
LAS VEGAS–Sin City can look a little bit more SimCity in 1.7 miles of tunnel that wind underneath the Las Vegas Convention Center here. The initial segment of the Boring Company’s Vegas Loop opened in April as the first real-world, passenger-carrying implementation of SpaceX and Tesla Founder Elon Musk’s dreams of building traffic-beating tunnels
With service provided by human-driven Teslas at most 40 miles per hour, the Loop falls short of earlier Musk visions of self-driving cars as fast as 150mph that might move to and from surface streets in automated elevators. But as I’ve seen from repeated runs on this route this week during CES 2022, it still improves on the previous transportation picture here. 
Free fares on the initial Loop segment makes getting a ride as simple as walking into a station–those at the LVCC’s West and South Halls are aboveground; the Center station sits in a well-lit underground space–and opening the door of the first available Tesla going in your direction. 
Board (take the front passenger seat if it’s open), buckle up, and your human driver should pull out and gently accelerate into the tunnel. It’s not a conveyance for the claustrophobic, though: At just 12 feet wide, the tunnels permit a bit over 2.5 feet of room between the side mirror of a Model 3 and the stamped-concrete facing. And there’s zero room for a shoulder of any kind. 
Drivers–one pleasant surprise of the Loop experience is how sociable and chatty every one of them was–cited speed limits of 40mph in straightaways and 30-inch curved segments, but I didn’t see any of them hit or exceed those speeds. 
So while the Boring Company advertises a two-minute travel time from one end of the LVCC to the other, the fastest ride I measured took 3:05 on Tuesday. One earlier that day stretched out to 4:35 because a driver ahead started off strangely slow, causing a miniature traffic jam. 
But even a slow Loop ride easily beat the pedestrian experience at the LVCC, which involves lengthy hikes and extended escalators between each hall. I quickly got used to having this option waiting, especially since the shriveled state of this year’s CES meant I didn’t have to wait more than a minute. 
I also soon got frustrated at not having this as an option to get to other CES venues. In October, Clark County’s government approved the Boring Company’s proposal to build out a 29-mile network that would eventually stretch from Harry Reid International Airport to downtown Las Vegas and cover such intermediate destinations as Strip resorts and Allegiant Stadium. 
Assuming Boring can actually get this network built, service won’t be free: Boring’s site estimates a $10 fare from the airport to the convention center. It also offers some exceedingly optimistic travel estimates—five minutes for that 4.9-mile stretch, for instance—that far outstrip its current service’s reality.
What’s even less clear is how well this system might scale to meet the bigger crowds Vegas can draw. As CES veterans can attest, the gigantic scope of an event that in 2020 drew more than 171,000 attendees has a way of breaking a lot of technology that had seemed reliable before.
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Rob Pegoraro writes about interesting problems and possibilities in computers, gadgets, apps, services, telecom, and other things that beep or blink. He’s covered such developments as the evolution of the cell phone from 1G to 5G, the fall and rise of Apple, Google’s growth from obscure Yahoo rival to verb status, and the transformation of social media from CompuServe forums to Facebook’s billions of users. Pegoraro has met most of the founders of the internet and once received a single-word email reply from Steve Jobs.
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