Congratulations To Elon Musk On Inventing Adelaide’s Mighty O-Bahn System

There’s a well-established trope among Silicon Valley firms which states every now and again, some ‘agile’ start-up will accidentally invent a commonplace product or service and present it as a revolution in the field.

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More often than not, they stumble across something as innocuous as the city bus, but Elon Musk‘s The Boring Company has seemingly discovered a more specific concept.

The company’s swish new video showcases its proposed loop system, which aims to reduce urban traffic by providing underground rails for road vehicles.

Cool! Everyone loves a tunnel. The thing is, the whole road-vehicles-on-rails concept has already been implemented by, uh, Adelaide. Over 30 years ago.

Upon closer inspection, it appears that The Boring Company’s project borrows heavily from the South Australian capital’s O-Bahn system, which has channeled city buses onto purpose-built concrete track since 1986.

Please observe a clip of the O-Bahn in action, recorded by a member of Adelaide’s thriving bunzel community:

Now, compare these two images, and have a peek at the tiny guiding wheels which have been a feature on the side of Adelaide buses for yonks:

Musk’s project also appears to match the O-Bahn on an ideological level. The O-Bahn, which connects the CBD to Tea Tree Gully in the city’s north-eastern suburbs, was constructed to ease congestion and build links to Adelaide’s growing fringes (it also enabled a generation of kids from further afield to become Plaza Rats, but that’s another story).

The Boring Company states its planned dig will “help reduce traffic in Los Angeles by providing a clean and efficient public transportation option” to the city’s Dodgers Stadium.

The difference is that in addition to apparently allowing cars onto the loop, Musk’s project intends to use electric ‘skates’, capable of carrying 16 passengers at a time. That’s minuscule compared to the carrying capacity of Adelaide’s mighty Scania K series buses – which are also capable of driving on regular tarmac roadways, baby.

The O-Bahn also services several key interchanges along the city’s north-eastern corridor, whereas the proposed loop, uh… just goes to the stadium. You could travel from Tea Tree Plaza to within walking distance of Adelaide Oval if you so chose, but you could also wind up in Harbour Town or Golden Grove. The options are endless!

Musk and his associated endeavours have bestowed some interesting innovations on South Australia, not least the enormous battery pack which now provides the state with a handy power reserve, but the loop seems to have taken a little something from Adelaide – while leaving some of its best features behind.

No word on whether the loop will include old mates blasting Hilltop Hoods out of their busted Motorola phone speakers, mind you. You can read reports from the loop’s initial test runs HERE. 

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