Why Elon Musk hates public transit
Musk hates getting stuck in traffic, but doesn't like transit either. Hence, the Boring Company.
We have noted before that Elon Musk doesn't like getting stuck in traffic. He started his Boring Company to avoid it:
Traffic is driving me nuts. Am going to build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging...— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 17, 2016
I always wondered why he didn't just take a subway instead of reinventing transport with his tiny tunnels. But now he explains all, according to Aarian Marshall of Wired Magazine. The main reason: It's icky.
"I think public transport is painful. It sucks. Why do you want to get on something with a lot of other people, that doesn’t leave where you want it to leave, doesn’t start where you want it to start, doesn’t end where you want it to end? And it doesn’t go all the time." "It’s a pain in the ass,” he continued. “That’s why everyone doesn’t like it. And there’s like a bunch of random strangers, one of who might be a serial killer, OK, great. And so that’s why people like individualized transport, that goes where you want, when you want.”
When someone suggested that in Japan, the trains appear to work, he responded “What, where they cram people in the subway? That doesn’t sound great.” The Boring Company backtracked on these comments, according to Wired:
A Boring Company spokesperson says Musk was criticizing today's public transportation systems, not the idea of mass transit itself, and also noted that the company isn't seeking public funding for its work. "The point is that while mass transit is generally painful, it doesn’t have to be that way and it should be better," the spokesperson continued. "That's why The Boring Company exists—to increase the happiness of both drivers and mass transit users by reducing traffic and creating an efficient and affordable public transportation system."
To summarize Elon Musk's views on transit: It's terrible. You might be killed. Japanese trains are awful. Individualized transport for everyone! Congestion? Induced demand? Climate change impacts? Unwalkable streets? Who cares! https://t.co/2MDs3p8IQt pic.twitter.com/g68WJkAbt7— Yonah Freemark (@yfreemark) December 14, 2017
One might point out that when there is investment in transit, it works rather well. When trains are clean, punctual and come often, people like to use it. Even buses and streetcars are pleasant when cities don't put cars first and give transit users the right of way. The reason Elon Musk wants to drill under cities and Uber wants to fly over them is that we let the ground plane get totally occupied by too many cars. If we fixed that, if we priced road use fairly and distributed the road proportionately, then people could all get around in nice clean buses and streetcars.
Everyone should get their own rocket to Mars. Who’d want to spend months in a tin can with a serial killer?— BikeView.CA (@bikeviewca) December 14, 2017
It will be interesting to see how he designs his rocket for going to Mars. I suppose he can vet his fellow passengers closely to make sure that everyone is clean and washed and not a serial killer. Or maybe he will fly alone.