Underground and below the lights of Sin City is the Las Vegas Loop. Elon Musk’s unofficially named “Tesla Tunnel” created by his spin-off, The Boring Company. I recently had the chance to take several rides through these tunnels in a Model X, and while yes, it was boring, the trip was also peacefully exciting and completely free.
On a typical day at the Las Vegas Convention Center for a show like CES or SEMA, visitors can often walk upwards of 20,000 steps and countless miles. Or at least that’s what my phone said I did. It’s exhausting as you bob and weave through the crowd, get bumped into several times, then wait at traffic lights to go across to the new West Hall.
And while that distance is only 0.8 miles, it can often take upwards of 30 minutes to navigate. To make matters worse, this is Las Vegas, after all, so temperatures often exceed 110 degrees and it can be hard to find a Taxi. But this year, it was different.
Instead, I took a short escalator underground into a tunnel system below the city to one of Elon Musk’s Vegas Loop stations. Very well expecting to find long lines and chaos. But, to my surprise, you could walk to either side of the station, stand in line for about one minute, then jump inside the Falcon Wing doors of a Tesla Model X and be on your way. There are several Tesla models available to passengers.
I got in the vehicle and said hello to a kind human driver. The door closed itself, and off we went into a wormhole the Boring Company dug. We started out going around 15 mph, so it was relatively uneventful. I asked how fast we could go, and the driver said, “buckle-up and we’ll take it to 40 mph,” which we promptly did. The driver actually hit 43 mph and said he’ll likely get a warning. Thanks, stranger, that was fun.
It’s nicknamed “Rainbow Road” for the quiet, comfy, yet colorful journey as you wind through the tunnel and quickly arrive at your destination. Lights inside the small, vehicle-sized tunnel change colors as you make your way to the other side of the Convention Center.
At one point it looked like we were driving into a bat cave, but that’s where we changed directions. Each Tesla vehicle eventually takes a ramp up and outside to a lovely covered patio where the car quickly stops. From here, I exited about 30ft from the doors to the South Hall building. It’s that fast and easy.
The ride is quick, calm, and rather enjoyable. Honestly, I don’t think it took longer than 2 minutes. There’s no curb to step over or oncoming traffic. There are no traffic lights or stop signs, and it doesn’t stop at multiple points along the way. Instead, the Las Vegas Loop takes you directly to where you want to go.
The experience is miles ahead of grabbing an Uber, waiting for a taxi, sitting at a bus stop, or trying to take a tram. Plus, trams and trains take forever to get going. Being able to get from one side of the Convention Center to the other, all while relaxing to some music in an air-conditioned vehicle was a game-changer.
It doesn’t matter which way you want to go, either, as there are turnaround locations for the driver. Plus, this makes navigation even easier so you don’t accidentally get in the wrong line and head South when you want to go North or to the new West Hall.
Again, it was fast and simple — and that’s my point. It certainly wasn’t revolutionary or mind-blowing, and Tesla still had a human driver, at least for now. I was told that by next year they’d all be self-driving. The trip was boring but in the best way possible. Everything was quick, convenient, relatively safe, and free. Remember that it’s likely only free thanks to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, and future rides elsewhere may cost money.
With its fleet of electric vehicles, Tesla’s current loop reportedly can handle around 4,400 people an hour, thanks to being short, sweet, and only 2-miles long. That said, Elon Musk’s Boring Company recently received approval to extend it by 29 miles.
Future tunnels can take visitors down to The Strip, the new Las Vegas Raiders Stadium, Golden Knights T-Mobile Arena, the Airport, and several casinos. Overall, it expects to build nearly 50+ access stations and support approximately 57,000 passengers per hour.
Imagine going from the Airport to your hotel in a matter of minutes. Effortlessly skipping traffic, construction, dangerous drivers, dealing with an Uber, and more. Then, drop off your bags, wander back down to the loop, and make your way to a Raiders game with ease.
It might not be revolutionary, but it makes perfect sense for somewhere like Las Vegas and other dense areas. And remember, this is only the beginning. Once all these tunnels are in place it’ll help with congestion issues, avoid road conditions, and more.
For now, all we have is a smidgeon of that dream. A few big tunnels and a car controlled by a human, but it was exceedingly better than walking or trying to catch a taxi.