Elon Musk set the interwebs ablaze this morning when he tweeted out that he somehow got every major city on the eastern seaboard to "verbally approve" a "NY-Phil-Balt-DC Hyperloop" to be built by his Boring Company.
"Just received verbal govt approval for The Boring Company to build an underground NY-Phil-Balt-DC Hyperloop. NY-DC in 29 mins."
"City center to city center in each case, with up to a dozen or more entry/exit elevators in each city."
"Still a lot of work needed to receive formal approval, but am optimistic that will occur rapidly."
"If you want this to happen fast, please let your local & federal elected representatives know. Makes a big difference if they hear from you."
If you want this to happen fast, please let your local & federal elected representatives know. Makes a big difference if they hear from you.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 20, 2017
City center to city center in each case, with up to a dozen or more entry/exit elevators in each city— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 20, 2017
Of course, if you're like us, the first question that came to mind after reading those tweets is whether Musk is really just that naive, if he thinks we're all really just that dumb or if he's just gone completely batshit crazy...mix of all three?
Now, we don't have a Masters in Government from Harvard, but we're almost certain there is no such thing as a "verbal agreement" when it comes to massive public projects that span multiple states and cost billions, if not trillions, of taxpayer dollars. And while Musk may be permitted to unilaterally make decisions to burn through hundreds of millions of dollars worth of shareholder money at Tesla, municipalities are specifically designed to prevent granting such powers to individuals when it comes to blowing through taxpayer funds.
Not surprisingly, it didn't take long before various "government" officials took to twitter to point out that they hadn't the faintest clue what Musk was even talking about...
New York City's mayoral press secretary apparently wasn't in the loop...
This is news to City Hall. https://t.co/GmEm0b5C4i— Eric Phillips (@EricFPhillips) July 20, 2017
also, if you're stopping by City Hall, please bring a copy of the proposal. That would help. https://t.co/sk6iCM2ymI— Eric Phillips (@EricFPhillips) July 20, 2017
Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) in New York didn't even know who Elon Musk was...which is not a good sign for that "verbal agreement" getting converted to a 'contractual' agreement at any point in the near future.
I just talked to the New York MTA about this. Press aide is so flabbergasted that they're asking me to spell Elon Musk's name for them. https://t.co/mLWb4Abfb8— Nathan Bomey (@NathanBomey) July 20, 2017
But, it wasn't just New York City that was flabbergasted by Musk's announcement as government officials from NYC to Washington D.C., and everywhere between, were forced to spend their entire day laughing off calls from anxious reporters about his imaginary project. Per The Guardian:
“Who gave him permission to do that?” asked a spokesman with the Maryland department of transportation.
“Elon Musk has had no contact with Philadelphia officials on this matter,” said Mike Dunn, the city spokesman. “We do not know what he means when he says he received ‘verbal government approval’. There are numerous hurdles for this unproven ‘hyperloop’ technology before it can become reality.”
A spokesperson for the state of Pennsylvania confirmed that neither the governor nor the state’s department of transportation had been contacted by Musk or his company.
Ben Sarle, a spokesman for the New York City mayor’s office, said in an email: “Nobody in City Hall, or any of our city agencies, has heard from Mr Musk or any representatives of his company.”
“The New York state department of transportation did not give verbal approval for a hyperloop,” said spokeswoman Jennifer Post.
Anthony McCarthy, the spokesman for the Baltimore mayor, Catherine Pugh, said: “Mr Musk’s announcement on Twitter was the first that the city heard of the Hyperloop project. ” However, Pugh said in a statement that she was “excited” to hear about the idea, which could “create new opportunities for Baltimore and transform the way we link to neighboring cities” – if it becomes a reality.
Similarly, LaToya Foster, the spokeswoman for Washington DC mayor Muriel Bowser, said: “This is the first we heard of it . We can’t wait to hear more.”
Does anyone else feel like they've seen this proposal somewhere before?