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The Boring Company shortlisted for Chicago transit

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Elon Musk’s The Boring Company is one of two bidders left in the race to design, build, finance, operate and maintain Chicago’s proposed O’Hare transit express.

Chicago city mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the selection of two firms - The Boring Company and O’Hare Xpress LLC – will be eligible to bid for the scheme that will deliver an express service from downtown Chicago to O’Hare International Airport in fewer than 20 minutes.

The shortlisted bidders, Boring Company and O’Hare Xpress LLC, made up of Meridiam, Antarctica Capital, JLC Infrastructure, Mott MacDonald and First Transit, are two of the four bidders who responded to a request for qualification (RFQ) issued late last year.

Chicago’s city mayor Emanuel said. “We have two teams that have the ability to get the job done and create an express connection between downtown Chicago and O’Hare Airport without a taxpayer subsidy. Strengthening connections between Chicago’s economic engines will drive our economy into the future, build on the city’s legacy of innovation and pay dividends for generations to come,

“Of the submissions received, these two teams represent the best potential partners to deliver this express service, which will be a key part of Chicago’s continued economic growth,”

Both bidders will need to submit their bids for the scheme by the 18 May, following the release of a request for proposals (RFP) tomorrow (Friday 23 March).

The RFP specifies that the O’Hare Express Service should include a downtown station, an airport station as well as maintenance facilities. Travel corridors may be above or below ground. With travel times of fewer than 20 minutes or less with service frequency of at least every 15 minutes for the majority of the day, and fares “must be reasonable” and less than the cost of current taxi.

Any proposal must also address how potential impacts on existing transportation systems and the environment would be avoided or minimised.

Although cost estimates for the project are not yet known, both the RFQ and RFP have stipulated that the transit will be funded solely by project revenues and financed entirely by the winning bidder.

In a statement earlier this week in the Chicago Sun-Times, deputy mayor Bob Rivkin said the scheme was ambitious. “We set forth a pretty ambitious proposal for fast service from downtown to O’Hare at no public cost and two significant companies and consortia have responded that they can do it.

“One is proposing a more traditional rapid rail service. The other is proposing a tunnel service. Cost components will be different. But the city won’t be on the hook for any of it.”

The current total daily number or air passengers travelling between O’Hare Airport and the Chicago central business district is approximately 20,000. This is forecast to grow to at least 35,000 daily air passengers by 2045.

In December last year, The Boring Company published it’s plans for it’s first tunneling scheme in Los Angeles. 

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