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Musk reveals plans for Hyperloop

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Musk reveals plans for Hyperloop

Elon Musk made headlines this week when he revealed plans to begin work on a high-speed, solar powered inter-city transportation system. The Hyperloop, as Musk eloquently refers to it in a Monday blog post on the Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) website, is intended to revolutionize our transportation system, promising to take passengers from Los Angeles to San Francisco in as little as 35 minutes.

Although the Hyperloop prototype grabbed headlines in typical Musk-style, Monday wasn’t the first time the CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX floated around the idea of a superfast mode of transportation. Musk, who has built his entrepreneurial career attacking businesses he deems inefficient, first introduced the idea a year ago. Monday’s blog post and press conference also served as a backhand criticism of another initiative to modernize the mass transportation system: California’s Bullet Train.

The Bullet Train is a high-speed rail system currently under development by the California High-Speed Rail Authority. Once completed, the rail system will link San Diego to Sacramento, a proposed length of more than 1,300 kilometres.

Most observers have heralded the Bullet Train as a greener, more efficient alternative to current modes of transportation, but not Musk. In fact, Musk’s Hyperloop blog post revealed how disappointed he was the California rail line was approved. Musk’s hope is the Hyperloop will disrupt plans for the $68 billion railroad. The Bullet Train is already delayed and over-budget, making it an opportune time to suggest alternatives.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority wasn’t amused with the timing of Musk’s comments. According to Authority’s Chairman Dan Richard, the Hyperloop is a good idea, but isn’t feasible, and won’t be for the foreseeable future. His sentiment was shared by others, including Rod Muttram, formerly of Bombardier. According to Muttram, the concept behind Musk’s Hyperloop is “by no means a new idea.” The only difference between the current prototype and other similar ideas is the tube transport system.

The initial segment of the Bullet Train, extending 209 kilometres from Fresno to Bakersfield, will be completed by 2017. There is no timetable set for the rest of the 1,300 rail system.

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