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Elon Musk: Las Vegas transit system may be ready in 2020

December 29, 2019 GMT
Tesla CEO Elon Musk introduces the Cybertruck at Tesla's design studio Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019, in Hawthorne, Calif. Musk is taking on the workhorse heavy pickup truck market with his latest electric vehicle. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
Tesla CEO Elon Musk introduces the Cybertruck at Tesla's design studio Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019, in Hawthorne, Calif. Musk is taking on the workhorse heavy pickup truck market with his latest electric vehicle. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

LAS VEGAS (AP) — An underground transit system using self-driving vehicles underneath the Las Vegas Convention Center could be up and running next year, billionaire Elon Musk announced on social media late Friday.

Musk tweeted that The Boring Company’s underground tunnel project in Las Vegas will be “hopefully fully operational” in 2020, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.

According to Musk’s tweets, the $52.5 million people-mover system being built beneath the Las Vegas Convention Center will be operational in the coming months after much speculation. Boring Co. and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority have said that the 1-mile (1.6-kilometer) system will be ready by the January 2021 CES trade show.

The convention authority did not immediately respond to request for comment Saturday night.

Authority President and CEO Steve Hill told board members on Dec. 10 that the project is off to an expected slow start.

Hill explained that the drill being used to create the tunnel is at its best when the entire 300-foot length of the machine is extended underground.

“It’s like crawling,” he told the Review-Journal in December. “The machine pushes against the tunnel and moves itself forward. … So they have to go pretty slow when it starts, and then it picks up.

The drill was officially powered up in November to create the system beneath and around the convention center. In addition to burrowing beneath portions of Swenson Street, Paradise Road and Convention Center Drive, the machine will tunnel below the convention center’s Central Exhibition Hall.

Once operational, the system is designed to transport people in autonomously operated vehicles, supplied by Tesla, another of Musk’s companies. The cars will be able to transport up to 16 people at a time through parallel tunnels, each running in a single direction.

The system also will include a pedestrian tunnel and three underground stations accessible from convention center’s halls.

The company also has proposals to build similar systems in Los Angeles, Chicago and between Washington, D.C., and Baltimore.

Musk also tweeted Friday night that the company will work on “other projects” after it completes the Las Vegas commercial tunnel.