Confirmed: Critics of Elon Musk’s Vegas Loop Are Clueless

When members of the media were invited to try Elon Musk’s underground tunnel system recently, the Vegas Loop took a major P.R. hit.

Critics tore Elon Musk (whose Boring Company built the system) and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (who paid for it) a new one.

Here’s the thing. The critics are wrong.

Vegas Loop

Suck it, Doc Brown. Elon’s “gull wings” rock.

The critics clearly don’t understand marketing or public relations. They don’t grasp creativity or boldness, and they really, really don’t get Las Vegas.

The bottom line: They’re measuring the Vegas Loop, and success, wrong.

We got a chance to put the Vegas Loop through its paces, and we can assure you it’s not a joke, it’s not a boondoggle and it’s going to be one of the most popular and talked-about attractions in the history of Las Vegas.

Let’s get inside Elon Musk’s holes!

We need a new word for this feeling. We vote for “Schwoooomsh.”

We know you don’t read, per se, so here’s a video of the Elon Musk Subterranean Thrill Ride Attraction Experience at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Which isn’t its real name, but it’s Las Vegas. Give it a minute.

Clearly, there’s a lot to unpack. We’ll get back to the clueless critics in a minute.

Here are some fun facts about Elon Musk’s Vegas Loop:

googie The tunnels are .8 miles long, each direction.

googie There are three stations, two above ground, one below.

googie It’s about a 90 second ride between each station.

googie The cars are Teslas.

googie There are 62 cars.

googie Most of the cars are Model 3, with some X and Y in the mix. The X is the one with the “gull wings,” above.

googie At the moment, the vehicles are completely controlled by the drivers, although they can be quasi-autonomous.

googie The cars can travel up to 40 m.p.h. in the straight sections of the tunnel, 30 m.p.h. in the turns.

googie About 1,500 drivers applied for the Vegas Loop, only 60 made the cut.

googie Most driver applicants failed the driving test, which culminates with having to drive the entire .8 mile tunnel backwards. There’s a five minute time limit. Drivers do this in case a vehicle ever stalls in one of the tunnels and they need to reverse their way out.

googie Drivers are paid $17 an hour, plus tips.

googie The capacity goal is about 4,400 people an hour, but from what we’ve seen (in addition to some math), it’s likely to be closer to 7,000 people an hour.

googie Larger vehicles are being developed by Tesla. They can accommodate 12 passengers.

googie The Vegas Loop is free. When it expands to hotels along The Strip, tickets will cost $5-10, according to Boring Company. Gird your loins, rideshare.

googie Construction of the Vegas Loop cost $52.5 million. Fun fact: New York City’s Second Avenue Subway cost $2.5 billion a mile. With a “b.”

This is the below ground station, and is the most photogenic.

Now, back to the boneheads. Sorry, “misguided journalists who can’t tell the difference between an Elon tunnel and a hole in the ground.”

First, most people judging the Vegas Loop harshly haven’t ridden it yet. Forming an opinion about the Vegas Loop without riding it is like deciding whether to have children based upon
watching an episode of “The Brady Bunch.” For the youths, that was a TV show back in the 1940s.

Also, critics point out the system may not blah blah to transport as many blah blah as originally promised.

Yes, the Vegas Loop was originally supposed to use the aforementioned vehicles that would carry more people. They aren’t ready yet.

Yes, the vehicles were supposed to be self-driving, but they aren’t yet.

What else you got?

The project is too ambitious! They haven’t thought about the caliche! Teslas don’t cure arthritis!

The whining goes on and on.

Listen.

The Vegas Loop isn’t mass transit. It’s not some magical technology fashioned from the eyelashes of unicorns.

The Vegas Loop is a public relations tool that will also move people around during their B2B multi-terrain loader convention.

It’s a conversation piece, and the P.R. value of the buzz has already surpassed what it cost to build the Vegas Loop. For example, we’re talking about it on our site, and that has an estimated value of infinity dollars.

The Vegas Loop, along with a shiny new convention center expansion, are a one-two punch of positive WOM for Las Vegas. That’s “word-of-mouth.” Keep up.

Yes, some of the specs have changed since the tunnel project was announced, but it’s not a “scam” as some proclaim.

As the project expands, we get to ask more questions, but at the moment, the Vegas Loop is a couple of tunnels filled with Teslas and it’s cool.

It’s cool because they’re Teslas.

It’s cool because the project is the brainchild of visionary Elon Musk.

It’s cool because it’s in Las Vegas.

It’s cool because one of the stations is lit up like a nightclub.

It’s cool because conventions are incredibly boring, and the Vegas Loop isn’t.

People from around the world will come to take the Vegas Loop, even if they aren’t attending a convention.

The Las Vegas Convention Center cunningly turned one of the Boring drill bits into art. We love it so much.

Boring Company has built something simple and effective, and Elon Musk’s pet project isn’t resting on its laurels.

As if the existing drilling equipment wasn’t slick enough, there’s a new twist: Prufrock.

We have no idea how to pronounce it, but it’s described as “Designed to construct mega-infrastructure projects in a matter of weeks instead of years.”

Oh, yes, this baby can drill a mile in a week without breaking a sweat. Read more.

Here’s where Elon Musk’s tunnel system is heading if all goes according to plan.

Elon Musk Las Vegas map

It’s all the things the monorail might have been, but: 1) People will use it, 2) If parts drop off in a tunnel, nobody gets hurt.

The critics need to lighten up!

Las Vegas is about creating a splash, and the Vegas Loop already has. The history of Las Vegas is punctuated by eccentric people doing bold things. Even the disasters are fascinating and contribute to the mystique of Sin City.

The cynics need to stop trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

Who would you rather talk with at a cocktail party? Elon Musk or an cynic constantly saying, “But it’s cars in a tunnel”?

In June, when World of Concrete comes to town, you may not be able to schmooze with Elon Musk, but you’ll be able to see his vision turned into reality, 40 feet underground.

Rather than walking a half hour across the Las Vegas Convention Center campus, your Tesla ride will take two minutes.

We can pretty much guarantee your ride will be exhilarating, and you’ll be thinking about it as you sit through your soul-killing workshop about innovations in hardwood flooring durability.

We can’t wait to take the Vegas Loop again, and we are not even a convention person.

Critics are free to schlep across the Las Vegas Convention Center while the rest of us float effortlessly to our destination as if riding on the wings of gulls. Or something.

75 thoughts on “Confirmed: Critics of Elon Musk’s Vegas Loop Are Clueless

  1. Hornbet

    Some of your best writing yet: “We know you don’t read, per se, so here’s a video”
    I agree with slant on this. Haters can exit, everyone else can enjoy something fresh, fun, and interesting.

    Reply
      1. project design

        Here’s a thing, they plan to illuminate the Tesla windows as video screens and you can chose your mood….Old Vegas, Grand Canyon, Space Odyssey, Showgirls<¬¬¬¬that's a thing….its a classical Vegas and it fun!

        Reply
  2. Dirk McQuickly

    I doubt Scott thinks he’s going to get a lifetime free pass for Tesla rides. Maybe it’s his actual opinion. I like how people think they can read his mind and know his motivation. It’s easy to talk sh*t.

    There is great potential in the project. I hope it works and expands (as planned). The price of zone based cabs is outrageous (worse than long hauling). Just don’t put the entry points a mile from the casinos like the monorail.

    Reply
  3. Jackson

    It’s a bit more than just PR. It’s proof-of-concept.

    Now, the Boring Company can show up in other cities and say: We built this in Las Vegas for $50 million dollars and it’s functional.

    As Scott notes, the fact that it doesn’t currently move tens of thousands of people is rather irrelevant because it’s easy to upsize the vehicles while still using the same tunnels. What’s important to city planners is knowing they won’t get stuck with massive cost increases due to issues with construction of the tunnels.

    I can’t stand Musk as a person. But, I will give him two thumbs up for having a vision AND actually following through and creating it.

    Reply
    1. Runnin’ Rebel

      Sounds like he did a fantastic job – hope it doesn’t have leaks during a summer rain storm

      Reply
    2. Ian

      People always say that. “I can’t stand Musk as a person, but…” What exactly is so horrible about Elon as a person?

      Reply
  4. Jackson

    A second Boring Company tunnel project is in the final stages of planning. It will connect Ontario Airport (ONT, in Southern California) and the Rancho Cucamonga Metrolink station. (Metrolink is a commuter rail service in Southern California.)

    ONT has wanted a rail connection to the airport for many years. The cost of purchasing the right-of-way for train tracks was prohibitive. Estimates to connect the LA Metro to ONT were between $1 and $1.5 billion.

    Although it’s not an exact comparison because it’s Metrolink versus LA Metro, the cost for the tunnel is only $85 million.

    https://www.mercurynews.com/2021/02/05/ontario-airport-tunnel-project-by-elon-musk-moves-to-next-phase/

    That station in Rancho Cucamonga is also one of the possible ending points of the Brightline West private train service between LA and Las Vegas.

    Reply
  5. David

    The Las Vegas monorail (paid for by your tax dollars) cost was like 700,000,000 (that’s 700million) and cost over 150 million dollars per mile. It is 4.4 miles and I think has only 7 stops. And guess what, it went bankrupt. It would be good to know who made all that money and who authorized the expense.

    Musk has got it going on! Great job, great article.

    Reply
  6. Edward Cooper

    So your point is, it suits Vegas, it’s a novelty, about as useful as a monorail, ok fine. But I thought it was meant to be a new paradigm in public transport, thats why the critics are out.

    Frankly I find the Pneumatic train in Broadway built in 1870 a far more an impressive technical challenge (and indeed novelty) than this effort.

    Reply
    1. Scott Roeben Post author

      Yeah, it was positioned wrong, but not really by Elon Musk. He said it’s Teslas in tunnels.

      Reply
      1. Sam

        No, he CHANGED his messaging to say it’s “Teslas in tunnels” after changing it three different other ways, some after construction had already started:

        https://archive.curbed.com/2020/1/8/21046929/elon-musk-ces-vegas-boring-company
        https://www.cnn.com/2019/12/28/tech/elon-musk-las-vegas-tunnel/index.html
        https://techcrunch.com/2020/10/16/elon-musks-las-vegas-loop-might-only-carry-a-fraction-of-the-passengers-it-promised/

        This is going to be propped up by Musk and the LVCVA as some grand thing, but is going to be more of a failure mid and long term than the Monorail.

        Reply
  7. F Grant Whittle

    If it’s not public transit, don’t compare it to the Second Avenue subway, which in any case is infinitely more impressive than this thing.

    Reply
  8. MattG

    Yeah, it’s future sounds grandiose, probably similar to how the monorail plans sounded when it started.
    Just because it’s underground doesn’t make it’s stations any closer to the hotels than the monorail stations – and where will the tunnels go? Under who’s property? Going to build under undeveloped lots? I would think there would be some issues.

    Sounds like a lot of people have drank the kool-aid on this one. Let’s see where it is after 25 years if it makes it.

    Regarding the monorail. I like it and use it. It’s helpful if you have a bad hip, knee, etc. It’s nice to use if you’ve already walked a ton, as well as it the hot hot weather. I think it doesn’t get more use because of the cost and, because it was an afterthought to The Strip layout, the stations are not convenient to get to.

    Reply
    1. BruceV

      I was told by an uber drive in LV that the original plan was for the monorail to go right down the middle of LV Blvd but Steve Wynn put the kibosh on that as he did not want a “metro station” right in front of his hotel (Mirage). This guy also referred to the monorail as the “ghost train”.

      Reply
      1. Michael Alexakis

        Is there room for a “metro station” in front of the Mirage or any other strip hotel? And that timeline seems suspect to me without looking it up on google, did Wynn even own the Mirage when the monorail was on the drawing board… When the monorail first opened up the Wynn hotel used to run a shuttle to drive you to its front entrance from the convention center station… I doubt one man’s wishes changed the entire project, as much as I respect Uber drivers musings… Just don’t take a ride from Steve Wynn, dude can’t see…

        Reply
    2. Jerry Springer

      The Boring Company submitted plans to Clark County for the Caesars loop as one of the extensions of the Las Vegas loop where they partner with the casinos. Someone came across the plans and posted them on the reddit sub boringcompany. It shows the tunnel popping up in the same areas surface transportation drops people off. It is a good example of how close they can get to the casinos and the flexibility compared to surface transportation or a larger-type underground mass transit system.

      Reply
    3. Jackson

      These Las Vegas tunnels and the proposed route in California (see my second post above) both go under public roads. That requires longer routes but doing that avoids any need to compensate the owners to build under their property.

      Reply
  9. Michael Alexakis

    A few random thoughts: I would like to be a bong hit vendor for this project, just as much as I would like to set up a tattoo kiosk at Raider games, they should bore a hole to Planet 13, I am calling this the Stoner Subway, which is not a good name for a band, sorry… The music on the video should be Us And Them by Pink Floyd, after all, were only ordinary men… Anything that reminds me of getting an MRI of your cervical spine must come with claustrophobia warnings… They got freaking back up cameras, no wonder you can’t drive around town without dealing with doggie excrement drivers, if you can’t freaking back up a car with a camera assist stay off the roads please… You are a Las Vegas blogger Scott, I get your drift on this, but there will be no moisture drip into my panties until they expand this out to the hotels, conventions are boring, pun intended, a bunch of corporate flakkies trying to stir up the sheep does nothing for me unless it’s porn or strippers… Tip Of The Day: If you hop into one of those Tesla’s and the driver is Steve Wynn, bail out, that creep can’t freaking see, he pokes holes in Rembrandt’s…

    Reply
    1. Stephen

      Claustrophobic nightmare with an MRI Tunnel Twist is what it does for me. Lets be honest here this is a subway using cars, not impressed at all. No matter how many disco leds used it’s horribly BORING.

      Reply
      1. Scott Roeben Post author

        How was your ride? I’m curious because how would you know whether to be impressed or not?

        Reply
          1. Stephen

            Scott you are refusing to look at the basic POINTS and instead treating the discussion as irrelevant. One can easily support your intent here as the unofficial Las Vegas cheerleader. I think the people here by their mere presence have done that. However the fact remains MOST people are going to find this tunnel deal a huge letdown. I predict it will flop as hard as the monorail has. It’s only hope is to finish build out which the monorail did not. Short of that its a sewer tunnel one can drive in.

          2. Michael Alexakis

            I would have to close my eyes for the entire ride, just as I had to close my eyes for the entire MRI of my cervical spine… I am mildly claustrophobic, and when I suffer from an episode of it it’s just awful, so I do not want to test it out in a tunnel. The video did a service for me, I am glad I watched it. I compare it to the BART that goes under water connecting Oakland and San Francisco, I can endure that section by closing my eyes. Some folks with more severe claustrophobia absolutely can not ride in these tunnels…

  10. Ken C

    Watching the video the first thing that came to my mind was George Lukas’ “THX-1138”

    For the youths, that was a sci-fi movie back in the 1940s.

    Reply
  11. Aaron S

    I just hope it can meet the demand needs (real world application, not projected requirements). It’s way cooler but I’d rather a train than a long line to use it. Like their milestones are 2200, 3300, and 4400 people per hour, while the Atlanta Airport “Plane Train” already autonomously carries over 10,000/hr and might even be cheaper. The significance of 2200/hr is it’s about one person per 2 seconds so that’s like a one lane escalator at half capacity, and large conventions often have multiple lane escalators to meet demand. But veeery good point that it’s vegas and the unique experience factor is unusually important. Same goes for the luxery of a car environment over subway car environment. My biggest compliment of it, is it’s a trojan horse to get people to try out a tesla vehicle as well as autopilot and like it enough to buy it for themselves, so that would explain musk’s desire not to “just use a train”. It’s brilliant on his part.

    Reply
    1. LV2002

      Instead we get a glorified car tunnel. Wow. Never seen that before. But they’re Teslas so the fanboys will be happy…

      Reply
  12. Ted Newkirk

    Once again, the out-of-town media don’t know what they are talking about. Plus, bashing Vegas is popular in many circles. And, bashing Elon Musk is popular in many circles.

    Regardless of your political views, we live in a world where “news” is opinion with a bias. Not actual journalistic news. (Fox and MSNBC viewers each think the other “news” channel is full of crap, and that their viewers are “drinking the Kool-Aid”).

    This is a nice addition to our transportation system which should be well-received and will have its place. Plus, much will be learned before they go (for example) to the airport. Where they might have four tunnels (two each direction) and use vehicles designed to hold fare more riders.

    If the Charleston Blvd. transportation master plan becomes a thing, expect a stop at Charleston as well.

    For what it costs, it is absolutely a no-brainer. Even if it often hits ridership limits and people have to use other methods.

    Reply
    1. lakawak

      A slow dangerous tunnel with no safety is a nice addition to Vegas? You must not think too highly of your own town. Or, just have no education. Which is another knock on Vegas.

      Reply
  13. Dan

    It was sold as a way to revolutionize public transit.

    It’s a tunnel for Teslas. Airport people movers move more people per hour than this thing.

    They did show that they can work faster and stay relatively on budget – which is fine. But it’s a Tesla tunnel. The original plan presented to the city (yes, by Elon) was not for a Tesla tunnel. That changed after the contract was already awarded to Boring.

    A small little detail you may have wanted to include before calling every critic a moron.

    Reply
    1. lakawak

      Easy to stay on budget when you de3liver a fraction of what you promised. Had they even ATTEMPTED to build what they said when they got the contract, they would have been orders of magnitude over budget.

      Saying this was on budget is like saying you built a 1 story house for the same budget that you said you were going to build a 5 story apartment building. So you stayed on budget.

      Reply
  14. certainOrder

    It’s unclear to me why Elon Musk should be held to a different standard than any other billionaire with a Moon Shot idea. If Bezos had promised free 2 day delivery and produced a same-month delivery service at twice the cost of same-week delivery, he would have been rightly criticized. Musk promises 30 minute rocket transit to anywhere on the globe and delivers nothing. Musk promises hyperloop systems at twice the speed of current rail and delivers nothing. Here promises a science fiction fantasy of point-to-point transit using underground tunnels and delivers…the smallest tunnel possible in which the contingency for a broken down vehicle is to *reverse out of the tunnel!?* What must this hack do to earn criticism?

    Reply
    1. lakawak

      Because he NEVER delivers…and his ideas have ZERO basis in actual science? NO ONE thought that 2 day deliver was impossible. (You know…being that the post office, UPS and Fed Ex had been doing that for decades earlier.) And Bezos didn’t take billions from taxpayers? are you REALLY that fucking stupid that you don’t see these differences?

      Reply
      1. guy

        Saying he never delivers is just plain untrue, remember you know, landing rockets, sending people to space…

        Reply
  15. DuLac55

    It is truly amazing how short-sighted people can be. You take a 0.8 mile proof of concept and project that out with zero vision. Scott is dead on in his article. Several people have said “this will flop as hard as the Monorail” or something to that effect. That statement is literally impossible. The #1 point of the Loop system is the cost or lack thereof. Suggesting that the new NYC subway is more impressive is completely ridiculous. The cost overruns and time delays were atrocious – all so you can get into a sweaty subway car with 1,000 other people. That sounds like the 1950s.

    The idea here is more personalized transportation that is more efficient. This is a project that evolves over time. Larger cars mixed with smaller cars, eventually fully autonomous, zero emissions, maximized comfort and speed. Subways suck, they get crowded and backed up all the time. If you are comparing this to subway, you don’t get it at all.

    Taking some congestion off the roads will help everything, and the best part is that it costs a fraction of the price. If it fails, it almost doesn’t matter. But, if you can one day get from LAS to Resorts World in 10 minutes without ever having to worry about traffic or some jag taxi driver long-hauling you, it is a win on its own. This is a scalable endeavor and one that evolves over time. We all want a shiny new toy right now, but that’s not how this works nor how it will progress. While conventions are a yawn, it is the backbone of this city. Just look at what happened to this city over the last 15 months without conventions. It’s been terrible for Las Vegas jobs. The convention center was the perfect place to start this trial.

    Scott is 100% right here. What were people expecting? It’s a tunnel for cars! YES, IT IS! That’s exactly what it is. Where you expecting boats or planes or something? Eventually it will be completely autonomous and will carry passengers in some unique cars that carry 2 or 4 or 12 people. Maybe you share a ride or maybe you take it solo. Who knows for sure? And that’s the point. Scott’s point is that this evolves and in the worst case scenario it drives incremental interest or hype in the city for doing what Vegas always does – lead! If you want a subway yawn fest, go to NYC or Chicago (two cities completely financially strapped, BTW). If you want something you have never seen before, go check out the Loop in Las Vegas and try to imagine what it might become over the next 10 years.

    Love your opinions, Scott, keep them coming. Pay the critics no minds.

    Reply
    1. Scott Roeben Post author

      Thanks, and you’re firing on all cylinders. If that’s a thing with electric cars.

      Reply
  16. David F

    “Yes, the Vegas Loop was originally supposed to use the aforementioned vehicles that would carry more people. They aren’t ready yet.

    Yes, the vehicles were supposed to be self-driving, but they aren’t yet.

    What else you got?”

    Um I dont know, how about fire safety? Logistics of actually moving people? There is no way this system can or will support 7000 people ever without an investment more then the cost of the tunnels themselves currently.

    You want me to dismiss the only two reasons the tunnels were dug, they were meant to move 4400 people and it was meant to be autonomous. Elon failed at both of those. That’s why he is deserving of the critique.

    Having said that for the LVCC you are exactly right, they got tunnels dug for bargain basement pricing and got their money back on marketing alone, let alone all the money Boring company will have to pay back for not meeting its goals. That doesn’t mean we cant be critical of Elon for his typical over promising and under delivering. If HP sells the most amazing printer for the best price today but the ink isn’t available for 2 years, its a problem.

    Reply
      1. David F

        How many vehicles were used for this test? To my understanding it will hit 4,400 if using 60 cars but Clark County Fire wont let them use that many until autonomy is achieved. Has that changed?

        Also a test of 300 people is very different than having 4400 people who have never seen this system before clogging it up as they close doors and slow down boarding.

        Reply
        1. Scott Roeben Post author

          They’ve already been approved for 60 cars. It’s smooth as silk, and those numbers aren’t even really trying to max out the system. Easily doable.

          Reply
  17. BA Rehl

    6 passenger electric golf carts, 50 mile range, 25 mph. Make 10 laps, put that cart on to charge and switch to a charged one. Based on cost, you can buy at least 3x as many carts.

    The benefits would be:
    * Quicker load time since there are no doors.
    * Easier driving in the tunnels because the carts are narrower.
    * More passengers per driver.
    * Double the passenger carrying capacity.

    Reply
  18. MrBuzzkill

    Nobody cares how many people it can move. Or that it has Teslas in it. Coulda been speed boats.

    If you want to sell tunnels to the world, you go to a 4.5 million sq ft Convention center that hosts thousands of conventions per year, and you build a demo tunnel connecting the world’s busiest convention halls. You let people with huge checkbooks ride around the tunnels in luxury Tesla’s for free while keeping the homeless and keno tourists up on the street. Trained chauffeur-salesmen extol the features of the fab tunnel like booth-babes at the World of Concrete show.

    People just can’t believe that this project has nothing to do with whisking slot-players from casino to casino.

    Reply
  19. ayy lmao

    @Brie But once the rave lights give you an epileptic seizure you stop caring about that so there’s that.

    Reply
  20. HTH

    LOL! This is just another one of Elon Musk’s stupid grifts to line his pockets with money. The Vegas Loop is a failure and does nothing to solve traffic issues. In fact, taking a bus would get you there just as fast.

    Reply
    1. Scott Roeben Post author

      You don’t get Vegas at all. Luxor could be a big, gray building. It would serve the same purpose.

      Reply
      1. AZC

        I get it. It’s Vegas so it’s all glitz without purpose, all facade w/o substance, all promises without delivering.

        Reply
  21. Jack

    I think visitors like to see the buildings and lights as they are driven throughout the town. Going in a tunnel from the convention center to Mandalay would be a big bore.

    Reply
    1. Scott Roeben Post author

      Yeah, it will definitely be more pragmatic than a taxi ride, but many people just want to get from one place to another as quickly and cheaply as possible. This would be that.

      Reply

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