Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla, SpaceX, and most recently, The Boring Company, recently expressed his controversial opinions on public transportation at a conference in Long Beach, California, drawing sharp criticism from public transportation advocates and experts.
“Public transport is painful. It sucks,” said Musk. “Why do you want to get on something with a lot of other people, that doesn’t leave where you want it to leave, doesn’t start where you want it to start, doesn’t end where you want it to end?” The billionaire inventor also expressed his dislike for riding with strangers before sharing his preference for individualized transport.
The Boring Company, in response to questions regarding its founder’s contentious comments, claimed that Musk was simply criticizing today’s public transportation options, not the concept of public transit itself. Musk’s goal, a spokesperson said, is to create efficient, affordable, and pleasant transit options.
Nevertheless, Musk’s comments seem unproductive and misguided, transit leaders have said, for they fail to address the real issues facing public transportation agencies in the United States. Aggregating riders—comfortably and safely, of course—is central to providing effective transit options and addressing interconnected issues of mobility, climate change, and increasing urbanization.