Rahm Emanuel, the former mayor of Chicago, is rumoured to be president-elect Joe Biden’s pick for Secretary of Transportation, according to a new report from Axios. But Emanuel would be a very weird choice for the position, not only because the longtime political operative has quite a list of political scandals. One of Emanuel’s few “accomplishments” in the area of transportation was hosting a press conference with billionaire Elon Musk to announce a futuristic-sounding project of underground tunnels that never happened.
“It will take longer to get through security at O’Hare than to get to O’Hare,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel proudly declared on June 14, 2018 during a press conference with Elon Musk at his side.
That promise hinged on Musk’s plan to install an underground “Loop” transportation system in Chicago between O’Hare Airport and downtown that was supposed to use 16-passenger vehicles travelling over 161 km per hour in tunnels underground.
The press conference was quite a spectacle, with Emanuel hosting Musk and proudly announcing the billionaire founder of SpaceX would be bringing futuristic transportation options to the Windy City through Musk’s tunnel-digging corporation, the Boring Company. And Musk even promised to start work quickly.
“We expect to start drilling later this year, perhaps as soon as three or four months,” Musk said. “And we’ll start drilling from both the station side and the airport side.”
Again, that was in June of 2018. Musk planned to make the project happen through private investment, insisting behind the scenes that the entire thing might cost just $US1 ($1) billion. The Boring Company said riders would pay between $US20 ($27)-$US25 ($34) per ride, roughly half the cost of an Uber for the roughly 29 km to the airport, and taxpayers wouldn’t have to put up a single penny.
Admittedly, it looked pretty impressive on paper, including a rendering of what a Loop station in downtown Chicago was supposed to look like, as well as an animated concept video of the vehicles in action.
Those 16-passenger vehicles were supposed to be completely autonomous, electric, and utilise a new unexplained technology to “skate” along an underground track. The Boring Company even bragged on its website that vehicles “will leave each station as frequently as every 30 seconds,” and claimed the system would operate “20 hours per day, every day of the week.” The Boring Company has since deleted the Chicago project from its website.
The animated video of Musk’s vehicles looked like something out of Tron with neon-blue light and a comfortable descent into an underground world of futuristic bliss. Storytellers of the 1950s, the same people who promised flying cars and jetpacks, would’ve been very proud, if only because Musk didn’t deliver on his techno-utopian promise either.
As you might recall, Musk’s promises of a revolutionary technology quickly disintegrated later in 2018. The Boring Company built a short tunnel in Los Angeles for a public demonstration that was embarrassingly pathetic. Musk assembled the press in December to show off his