SAN FRANCISCO — Tech maverick Elon Musk wants to build a new subway-like system that prioritizes pedestrians and cyclists over cars, a big shift from his previous traffic-busting vision.
A series of Musk tweets on Friday included an animation that shows a bus-like vehicle suddenly lowering itself deep underground where it joins a flowing artery filled with similar people-filled pods.
The Tesla and SpaceX CEO described the new auto-less mission as a departure from his original concept for The Boring Company, which focuses on drilling tunnels beneath major urban centers. Initially, the company's tunnels were to be filled with moving platforms upon which rode personal cars.
"Will still transport cars, but only after all personalized mass transit needs are met," Musk tweeted. "It’s a matter of courtesy & fairness. If someone can’t afford a car, they should go first."
He added in a separate tweet that "Boring Co urban loop system would have 1000’s of small stations the size of a single parking space that take you very close to your destination & blend seamlessly into the fabric of a city, rather than a small number of big stations like a subway."
Musk, who lives in traffic-jammed Los Angeles, has vowed to solve his city's gridlock problem with new tunnels. In October, Maryland officials said they were welcoming Musk's drills, but the entrepreneur countered quickly that he was "not ready to do a proper announcement yet."
That car-on-a-moving-platform approach is one favored by Arrivo, a new company started by former SpaceX engineer Brogan BamBrogan, who previously co-founded hyperloop company Virgin Hyperloop One before leaving after suing the company, alleging harassment.
The company countersued, and eventually a settlement was reached. Later, BamBrogan and a few other ex-Virgin Hyperloop One team members founded Aurora, which is looking into implementing its version of hyperloop technology in Denver.
Virgin Hyperloop One, currently being led by investor Richard Branson, remains focused on developing a system of tunnels whose pods would carry people and cargo long distances at speeds that conceptually could reach 700 mph.
Musk first conjured hyperloop in a white paper in 2013, but gave his blessing for other companies to run with his idea. In late 2016, he vented his frustration with L.A. traffic, which gave rise to the archly named Boring Company.
"Traffic is driving me nuts," Musk tweeted. "Am going to build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging..."
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