Would an express train that whisks travelers from Chicago's Loop to O'Hare International Airport in 12 minutes help someone who lives in the suburbs?
Experts acknowledged that suburbanites aren't the core market for the Chicago Express Loop, a high-speed train being developed by Tesla's Elon Musk.
But suburban business travelers who work downtown will see some benefit, as will locals with a need for speed to Chicago, they predicted.
"The suburbs will largely be bystanders, but being able to drive to O'Hare and be whisked downtown will be a real benefit," DePaul University transportation professor Joseph Schwieterman said.
"The technology is not designed to allow for route extensions, so expect this to be a stand-alone project without much discussions about service west of O'Hare."
Nevertheless, Schwieterman said, "this system will be a big win for Des Plaines and Rosemont, which will gain an ultrafast link to downtown from a station only a few minutes away."
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Thursday the selection of Musk-owned The Boring Company to build and finance the subterranean project with a downtown station near State and Washington streets.
Potential riders, however, will need to wait about four years for the futuristic train to materialize.
It's estimated tickets will be "less than half" the cost of a cab or Uber fare. The express will run 20 hours a day with trips potentially operating every 30 seconds or so.
Schwieterman thinks "everyone, including the suburbs, will benefit from the many jobs that this project creates."
Mount Prospect Mayor Arlene Juracek, chairwoman of the O'Hare Noise Compatibility Commission and a former downtown commuter, said, "I could see people going to the office in the morning and then taking the Express to O'Hare for a midday or later flight.
The concept is "also great for meetings in the Loop where out-of-town participants will want to catch an afternoon flight back home. Overall, a great and welcome convenience!"
Musk said the train will travel at speeds between 125 and 150 mph. Instead of traditional subway cars, the Express will use battery-operated electric "skates" that can hold eight to 16 passengers.
The announcement Thursday came a day after the Illinois tollway signed an agreement with Canadian Pacific Rail that will forward another significant O'Hare development -- a ring road (I-490) around the airport.
The ring road will connect to Route 390, the Jane Addams Tollway and the Tri-State Tollway. Ultimately, Chicago is planning to offer parking, a terminal building and underground trains to other terminals on the west side of O'Hare.