By David Meyer
May 11, 2018

Citizens of Los Angeles should soon be able to check out the new tunnel that’s being bored by Elon Musk’s Boring Company—for free.

That’s Musk’s tentative promise, made via a Thursday Instagram post that featured what he said was a video of the company’s first full tunnel under L.A. “Pending final regulatory approvals, we will be offering free rides to the public in a few months,” he wrote.

Those free rides are just the “demo system rides,” of course—once it’s properly up and running, taking the proof-of-concept Boring tunnel will incur a fee. The idea is to transport cars, and pods containing pedestrians and cyclists, through the tunnel on electric skates.

Musk said the cost to pedestrians and cyclists would be less than that of a bus ticket.

The Boring Company promises to build tunnels faster and more cheaply than is currently the norm, partly by improving tunnelling machines, and partly by just making narrower tunnels. The Tesla tycoon’s side-project ultimately wants to use its tunnels for futuristic, vacuum-based Hyperloop systems.

It was only last month that the L.A. City Council green-lit an environmental review exemption for the 2.7-mile test tunnel, which runs parallel to the city’s Sepulveda Boulevard, from Pico Boulevard down to Washington Boulevard. The distance covered by the proposed tunnel was just short enough to allow the exemption—the review would normally take a year or more.

However, a full-blown tunnel beneath the city would require strict scrutiny that could take years. Musk’s enthusiasm for the project stems from his frustration with L.A. traffic, and he’s made claims about building a tunnel between Sherman Oaks and LAX by the end of this year, but that seems very unlikely.

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