Mass Transit

The Hyperloop Is Landing the Private Investment That Eludes High-Speed Rail

Company planning an early test in Nevada soon.


This Hyperloop might end up being a real thing. The latest news is that Hyperloop Technologies will actually be building an open-air test track in Nevada and will start testing its system in a month.

For those who may need a refresher, the Hyperloop, supported by tech innovator Elon Musk, is currently a theoretical concept of mass high-speed transportation. It would use large pneumatic tubes to transport people and goods at speeds approaching the sound barrier— about 750 miles per hour.

It hasn't been built before and we don't know for certain whether it will work safely. But the company is drawing in investors and getting to work. What they've announced this week is that they'll be building an open track (not an enclosed tube) in Nevada that will operate at half the speed. The plan to have a working, fully enclosed, high-speed tube that extends for two miles operational by the end of 2016.

Also of interest—the Associated Press takes note of how the financing is working:

The cost of the so-called Propulsion Open Air Test wasn't disclosed. The company said it has raised $37 million from investors and expects to obtain $80 million more in bond financing.

Jennifer Cooper, spokeswoman for the Governor's Office of Economic Development, said no tax incentives were involved.

Investors, not subsidies. Note that this is $37 million more in private funds committed to this project than California's High-Speed Rail proposal has been able to snag. The California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) is quick to say that there is an "interest" by any number of private investors, but they haven't gotten a cent so far.

There's more bad news for the high-speed rail crowd today. Democratic Assemblywoman Patty Lopez, representing the San Fernando area, has yanked her support for the train. It would cut through her district and she told the Los Angeles Times that it would damage her community, and she doesn't see any actual benefits from it. She also said there are five other Democrats who are reconsidering their positions. And current Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who will be running to succeed Gov. Jerry Brown, has openly spoken out against the project.

Below, ReasonTV interviews Dirk Ahlborn, CEO of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (a separate company from Hyperloop Technologies), about the project: