Driving a car from New York City to Washington, DC, takes nearly five hours with generally heavy traffic. That trip gets cut to about an hour when on a plane, without factoring in the additional time spent to get ready and have bags checked. A much more convenient option in half the time of a flight could be coming to the Northeast coast, but there’s a little controversy behind it.
On Thursday, entrepreneur Elon Musk tweeted out that he “received verbal [government] approval” to construct an underground hyperloop that makes stops at four big cities: New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington. The announcement caused quite a stir, especially when there was the proclamation that a trip from one end to the other could be completed in less than a half hour.
Musk heads the Boring Company, an open-source operation that is responsible for digging tunnels for these underground routes. His ultimate vision is to construct as many tunnels below the Earth’s surface as skyscrapers reach toward the sky. The idea comes from having to deal with messy traffic in Los Angeles, and other major cities like Chicago have pondered the idea.
These hyperloops would act similarly to Amtrak trains. They would go through each major city and there would be around 12 stops on the route. Hyperloop One has emerged as one of the more popular startups in this new fast-paced traveling industry. Their goal is to achieve a speed of 700 miles per hour. So far, they’ve been very successful with trial runs in closed environments.
Back in May, Hyperloop One finished their biggest run yet in a vacuum tube located at their testing facility in Nevada. The Observer reports they were able to achieve 70 miles per hour in 5.3 seconds. The results promise that they’re heading in the right direction, but how soon? In an interview with Engadget, CEO Rob Lloyd penciled in 2020 as the year freight could move around and 2021 with passengers.
Interestingly enough, Hyperloop One didn’t include the DC-New York route on their list of 11 pathways they’ll be exploring in the future. There’s also no governments that have publicly acknowledged giving Musk the go-ahead to create tunnels underground in this area. Jalopnik reports that no public agency in the area has done this, and a number haven’t even been in touch with Musk.
The only hint of support came from the White House, stating that both parties “have had promising conversations to date” and “are committed to transformative infrastructure projects.” There’s a chance the verbal agreement came from there, but Musk later clarified that nothing was formal yet. He also urged those that were interested in the hyperloop system to contact their local elected representatives.