This has been a dizzying week to follow Elon Musk in the news, from the possibility of taking Tesla private to claims by rapper Azealia Banks that the rocket ship mogul was tweeting on acid to the multiplying SEC probes to his bizarre therapy session with The New York Times. So, let’s take a break from that and check in on the world of baseball, where the Los Angeles Dodgers lost five straight games to fall out of first place in the National League We—uh-oh.
“Whether it’s flying overhead in an aerial transit system or bypassing traffic through an underground tunnel, we are always looking for innovative ways to make it easier for Dodgers fans to get to a game,” the team’s Twitter feed proclaimed on Thursday evening. “Check out @boringcompany plans for the Dugout Loop.”
The Dugout Loop is a plan to build a tunnel under Los Angeles for three and a half miles, connecting Dodger Stadium to one of three Metro Red Line stations along Vermont Avenue. The Boring Company promises that there will be no road closures during construction of the tunnel, and that the stations on the stadium shuttle will be built on privately owned land. Trips along the “electric skates” traveling up to 150 miles per hour would take four minutes from one end of the line to the other.
It sounds wonderful for everybody, except for the fact that it’s entirely pointless. Dodgers fans who don’t want to drive to the ballpark already have a solid option in the Dodger Stadium Express – a bus that runs from Union Station, six-to-eight Red Line stops and 15-20 minutes away from the Dugout Loop’s proposed terminals, and the ballpark.
The bus ride, itself 15-20 minutes, is free for anyone with a ticket to a game, and is a mode of public transportation that gets mostly positive reviews on Yelp, including shoutouts to the provision of a dedicated bus lane to speed fans into the stadium. The top complaint seems to be that sometimes there are not enough buses on a line with service every 10 minutes, a problem that should be easy enough to solve.
The Dugout Loop, meanwhile, “will be limited to approximately 1,400 people” per event according to The Boring Company, though it could be possible to double that, which would represent a whopping 5% of the stadium’s capacity. The idea would be to charge $1 fares, though that is not set in stone.
From a financial perspective, this appears to be a boondoggle. Even if the Dugout Loop were to prove popular enough to be filled to capacity all the time, it still would be nearly impossible for the cost of construction to come in anywhere close to where it would need to be for the thing to be a moneymaker, something that presumably matters more to a corporation than it does to public builders of mass transit, for whom there is more at stake than money.
The plan is to build a huge, expensive tunnel, with utility only for events at one place, using unproven technology, so that a maximum of 5% of people going to a game can save a maximum of 40 minutes on their trip – and that’s if they started their journey closer to Vermont Avenue than to Union Station in the first place. Union Station also has plenty of parking lots and is situated near multiple freeways, while serving multiple rail lines, things that Vermont Avenue cannot claim.
Also, remember, the Dugout Loop plan involves going into business with Musk, the real-life spacefaring Lyle Lanley. Let’s hear a little more about that “flying overhead in an aerial transit system” the Dodgers mentioned, shall we? As many as 5,000 people per hour, from Union Station, using proven technology while providing views of the city… all while not doing business with a guy in the midst of a professional and personal meltdown? Or, you know, the Dodgers could just check in with their farm teams in Brockway, Ogdenville and North Haverbrook.