Traffic is driving me nuts. Am going to build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging...— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 17, 2016
Musk wasn’t joking. At least that’s what he tells me as we sit in the SpaceX offices in Washington. For years he’s been thinking about tunnels—both out of a personal fascination and because they’d be an important component of the Hyperloop, the fanciful high-speed rail system he proposed in 2013. All the while he’s been quietly encouraging anyone who asks him about new business opportunities to consider digging for a living. “I think they were hoping I’d say some sort of iPhone app that they could make,” he says with a smile. “I would just say, ‘Do tunnels.’ It would obviously solve urban congestion—and we wouldn’t be stuck in soul-destroying traffic all the time.”
As Musk tells it, the L.A. traffic jam was a breaking point. Screw it, he thought, I’ll do tunnels myself. Within days of his tweetstorm, he acquired a domain name—BoringCompany.com—and appointed a leader for the project, Steve Davis, a senior SpaceX engineer who designed the guidance systems for the company’s first rocket. The barely sketched plan was to dig lots of tunnels for cars and high-speed trains. Mostly, Musk was going to approach it in his usual way: He’d figure it out as he went along.Max Chafkin
Congratulations, Elon, you’ve just reinvented the subway!