|Elon Musk, left, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel discuss their big train plans beneath Block 37 on Thursday.|
The problem with Chicago is ...
Nope, that's not right. "The problem" suggests there's just one, when of course there are many.
Many, many problems.
Among the problems facing Chicago...
How you finish that sentence depends on who you are.
I'm tempted to say that, among all our pressing problems, from schools to cops to pensions to crime to infrastructure, "You just can't get to O'Hare fast enough" qualifies for the list only if followed by "said no one ever."
I go to O'Hare often, for work or pleasure. Usually, I admit, leaving early from the leafy suburban paradise, which means American Taxi does the deed for $31 plus tip.
But if I'm downtown, catching an afternoon flight, I jump on the Blue line, pay $2.50. It lets me off inside O'Hare. Can't do better than that.
Yes, it takes 40 minutes of my super-valuable time. Yet never did I — or, I would wager, anybody — ever think: "If only some South African billionaire would show up and offer to dig an underground tunnel to speed me to the airport at 100 miles per hour. That would shave half an hour off the trip."
No matter. Elon Musk has a new company — The Boring Company, a delightful name. And, out of the goodness of his heart, Musk is offering to spend $1 billion of his own money — well, of somebody's money — to put in the system, which will charge between $20 and $25 for the silent trip in a jumbo subterranean Tesla.
Split the difference and say $22.50, or $20 more than the "L." Doing the math — which Tesla's investors have been doing more vigorously lately, now that the blush is going off the plans of the visionary businessman — those heading to the airport on the "L" instead of Musk's system would effectively be paid $40 an hour to check their iPhone on a train as opposed to doing so while sitting at Terminal 3. A pretty good deal for most people.
In my 30 years at the Sun-Times I've seen my share of lofty schemes: circulator trams and monorails and floating island airports. They never happen for the simple reason that announcing grand plans is easy while achieving them is hard.
And nothing makes my hand shoot to my wallet faster than the phrase "at no cost to taxpayers."
Which is not what Rahm said regarding his new Busy Rich Folks Underground Express to O'Hare. His phrase was "zero dollars from the public." "At no cost to taxpayers" was Rich Daley talking about Millennium Park, which ended up setting back taxpayers about $100 million.
Not that I'm complaining. Gotta love that Bean. But still. How stupid does Rahm think we are?
Don't answer that.
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