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Aspiring mass transit builder Elon Musk despises public transit: ‘There’s like a bunch of random strangers’

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It’s so bad, he wants to build his own

Car on sled
Musk’s plan involves creating tunnels that would carry cars and pods that carry up to 16 people.
The Boring Company

About a year ago, Elon Musk tweeted that he was stuck in traffic, fed up, and wanted to build a tunnel for cars that would get rid of gridlock by creating what has since been explained as, essentially, a privately-funded, faster, lower-capacity subway.

Why not just improve or expand the subway we have already? One reason is probably that Musk loathes public transportation. Wired reports that at a recent Tesla event in Long Beach, Musk flat-out said: “I think public transport is painful. It sucks.”

He went on to malign public transit, because it “doesn’t leave where you want it to leave, doesn’t start where you want it to start, [and] doesn’t end where you want it to end.”

Musk says another great disadvantage of public transit ... is the public.

“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.”

This preference for individualized transport (aka a car) is not unique to Musk and is likely a major contributor to why traffic is so bad. Curbed’s urbanism editor, Alissa Walker, has noted that the real reason traffic is getting worse is that the number of miles traveled by cars each year reached an all-time high in 2016.

A Boring Company spokesperson tells Wired that Musk was criticizing existing public transit systems, not the idea of mass transit itself. “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 continues. On the solution, Musk and transit planners disagree.