Entrepreneurs

Elon Musk says public transit is 'painful,' Twitter fights back — then so does Musk

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk
Brian Snyder | Reuters
Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk

Elon Musk does not like traffic. In fact, the billionaire serial entrepreneur's The Boring Company is currently digging tunnels underneath Los Angeles to provide an alternative, less congested route for cars.

It also seems he's no fan of most public transport. He's proposed the hyperloop (a vacuum-sealed tube through which pods can fly at tremendously high speeds) and is preparing to compete on a bid to build a train connecting downtown Chicago with Chicago O'Hare Airport.

But most recently, the Tesla CEO reportedly made disdainful comments on the subject at a company event during the Neural Information Processing Systems conference in Long Beach, Calif., in December.

Responding to a question about public transit and urban sprawl, Musk said, "I think public transport is painful. It sucks. 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? And it doesn't go all the time."

"It's a pain in the a--," he said, according to a report from Wired. "That's why everyone doesn't like it. And there's like a bunch of random strangers, one of who might be a serial killer, OK, great. And so that's why people like individualized transport, that goes where you want, when you want."

When an audience member brought up the effective public transport in Japan as a counterpoint, Musk's response was again dismissive: "What, where they cram people in the subway? That doesn't sound great," writes Wired.

Musk later called the Wired story a "depressingly misleading & misanthropic article" on Twitter. He also called the author, who questioned whether someone building public transportation needs to like public transportation, unflattering names. A Boring Company representative told Wired Musk does not like public transportation's existing options.

But amid the back and forth, Musk's comments caught the attention of Brent Toderian, a Vancouver-based city planner and urbanist. In response, Toderian called for people to tweet about good things that happened to them on public transit.

Toderian himself shared a story.

And so did so many others:

Thursday, Musk responded to the ordeal with an impassioned series of tweets.

According to Musk, he does, in fact, "actually love trains, most subways and London buses." But not everything.

It was all part of a Twitter fight that erupted between Musk and New York Times economist and columnist Paul Krugman, who chastised the entrepreneur's name-calling.

After a heated exchange, Musk promised, "Bloody hell, I'm going to have to write a blog. Can't fit this into tweets."

See also:

Here's what Elon Musk has to say about Donald Trump's new plan to send Americans to the moon and Mars

9 of the most jaw-dropping things Elon Musk said about robots and AI in 2017

For $20, you could win a tour of Elon Musk's Boring Company tunnels under Los Angeles