The Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Teslas in Tunnels
Local officials approved the development of a network of tunnels for one of the most nonsensical means of transportation ever conceived – Teslas in Tunnels. As per the Verge report, “dubbed the “Vegas Loop,” the system will allow passengers to hitch rides in Teslas to and from places like the hotel casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, the city’s new football stadium, the Las Vegas Convention Center, and McCarran International Airport.” As usual, the Loop is a pet project of a union-busting New Gilded Age autocrat: Elon Musk.
The idea is not difficult to understand. Instead of restricting cars to the surface, the rich will build more roads underground but reserved for companies whose profits go back to Elon Musk and his shareholders. The Boring Company – probably the most apt name for a corporation specializing in inefficient and unhelpful transportation “innovations” ever coined – says “roads must go 3D,” after all.
Supposedly, this network is “citywide.” Even a cursory glance at the proposed map shows the truth. The tunnels are not citywide. The tunnels will link the Strip to the Convention Center and Downtown. Beyond that, the tunnels will cross west all the way to the incredibly-distant landmark of Arville Street and as far east as the remote Thomas and Mack Center.
The Boring Company has done every possible thing to avoid interacting with locals. The “citywide” network avoids most of the city where the people live and reside. Even though we – the clerks, the casino workers, the cooks and the waiters – built this city, the vast majority of us do not receive the benefits of development.
The Vegas Loop is designed around the consumption needs of the wealthy and the tourists. Both groups, both whiter than Las Vegas’s local communities, can reach their next consumption feasts by hailing fancy, shiny Teslas underground. The novelty even comes with a feel-good bonus. For the small price of lining Musk’s pockets with yet even more money, they can use electric vehicles – how progressive! How advanced! Ignore the cost of current electric vehicle development on the environment vis a vis lithium extraction, of course.
Teslas in Tunnels do nothing more than facilitate the flow of capital. In the short term, that is largely the river of gold from one casino to another in Las Vegas. In the long term, as more and more consumers enjoy the comforts of Teslas, the tunnels lead back to more and more purchases of Teslas. Capital flows from tourists to Boring and from Boring to Tesla, all of which proceeds to Elon Musk. The people see none of the money and none of the benefits.
Las Vegas development tends to follow this capital-centric trend. Billionaires view Vegas as a neon playground for their egoistic fantasies, designed not around beneficial public policy but rather whatever unhinged whims possess them. Conveniently, these fancies allow them to collect more and more capital, funding more and more of their ego trips in the desert.
Their harebrained impulses face little resistance. Usually, policymakers and decisionmakers meekly obey the billionaires’ decrees with stamps of approval on each and every ego trip development scheme. In this Wild West of a new Gilded Age, anything goes as long as you have the money to back it up. That includes Teslas in Tunnels from the Boring Company, a plan straight out of a cyberpunk dystopian novel.
If the needs of the people were served, these 29 miles of tunnels connecting 51 stations would be the advent of a new subway system across Las Vegas. The tunnels would expand west to Summerlin, throughout North Vegas, and link Eastside with the rest of the city. A subway would not only be a more efficient transportation system than cars in tunnels; it would also combat the exact issues that the Boring Company point to as their excuses for further capital accumulation, like decreasing road congestion. A subway would just solve those issues more effectively.
Teslas in Tunnels is one of the most vapid projects for transportation ever devised to date. The best we can do with the entire scheme is let Elon Musk build his tunnels and then promptly take them over to build our subway. Policymakers should take note.