Fleet Financing

Elon Musk’s Downtown Airport Tunnel Transit Plan Steps Forward; the city is looking for competing plans between the airport and the city center


The Boring Co., a tunneling company backed by billionaire Elon Musk, has discussed with local leaders in recent months the possibility of building an underground transportation loop in San Antonio.

On October 1, the Alamo Regional Mobility Authority formally invited contractors to submit plans for “a transportation project that can efficiently and economically transport people between the vicinity of San Antonio International Airport and downtown. -City of San Antonio ”.

It is not a coincidence.

The Boring Co. offered to build a tunnel through which a company-driven fleet of Teslas would shuttle between the airport and downtown San Antonio, according to two people familiar with the talks. (Musk is the CEO of electric vehicle maker Tesla, as well as the founder and chief of SpaceX.)

Alamo RMA chairman Michael Lynd Jr. said the authority issued the request for airport-downtown plans in “response to a proposal that was submitted to us by a company.” However, he declined to identify the company.

In his call for proposals, Lynd said the authority was opening the process to competing ideas for a better and “economically viable” way to move travelers from the airport to the city center.

“First, give us an idea,” he said. “Then give us the facts and hard data behind it. “

The deadline for submitting proposals is December 1.

According to Google Maps, the trip from the airport to the downtown Henry B. González Convention Center is 9.6 miles and takes 14 minutes on average, most driving on US 281, according to Google Maps. In other words, it’s not a particularly strenuous journey.

But the original proposal does not attempt to solve a transit problem, said Bexar County engineer Renee Green, who is also director of engineering and operations for Alamo RMA. The company primarily targets business travelers landing in San Antonio International who have business accommodations and / or downtown hotels.

“These are people who carpool,” she said. “Their target market is really carpooling and taxis. “

Green also declined to identify the company behind the original downtown airport proposal – which she said did not identify the downtown loop destination.

The city of San Antonio owns and operates San Antonio International. But city officials did not like The Boring Co.’s plan.

City Manager Erik Walsh, Deputy City Manager Rod Sanchez and Director of Transportation Tomika Monterville “all had conversations at various times with The Boring Co. over the summer,” the city spokeswoman said. , Laura Mayes. “At this point, looking at pricing and some unanswered questions, this is just not a viable option for the city at this time.”

The Boring Co. currently operates an underground transportation loop in Las Vegas. He built two tunnels that connect the four exhibition halls that make up the 3.2 million square foot, 200 acre campus of the Las Vegas Convention Center. End to end, the journey takes less than two minutes.

The loop was opened to the public in June.

The LVCC loop, which includes three stations and 1.7 miles of tunnels, cost taxpayers $ 52.5 million. It has the capacity to move over 4,000 people per hour.

Control

After the December 1 deadline, the authority will interview up to four shortlisted companies “to further define their concepts and proposals,” according to its official request. RMA will then choose a finalist and begin negotiating a development agreement.

Or it could end the effort.

Also taken from the agency’s “Request for Qualifications and Proposals”: ​​“Alamo RMA plans to sell revenue bonds to pay for project costs, but may need additional funding to cover any variance between product bonds and the necessary funds. “

The Alamo RMA is an independent political authority established in 2003 to finance or acquire, design and operate transportation projects, including the construction of major highways and toll roads. Bexar County commissioners appoint six of its trustees and Governor Greg Abbott appoints the chair.

The Boring Co. did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

This story will be updated.

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