Elon Musk unveiled plans on Monday for a futuristic “Hyperloop” transportation system to whisk passengers between San Francisco and Los Angeles in under half an hour. Musk says The Hyperloop (or something similar) could connect high traffic city pairs that are less than about 1500 km or 900 miles apart. Around that inflection point, says Musk, supersonic air travel ends up being faster and cheaper.
Musk said the Hyperloop would cost less than $6 billion in total and could transport 7.4 million people each way each year. He said it would take 7-10 years for the project to be completed.
The solar-powered system, which Musk previously described as a cross between a Concorde, rail gun and air-hockey table, would shoot as many as 28 passengers in each enclosed capsule through a low-pressure steel tube at up to 800 miles per hour, according to the 57-page design plan.
The pods and linear motors are relatively minor expenses compared to the tube
itself – several hundred million dollars at most, compared with several billion
dollars for the tube.
Musk is floating the Hyperloop as an alternative to California’s planned high-speed train line, which he has said will be both too expensive to build and too slow.
Cost estimates for construction of the high speed train line, a major priority of California Governor Jerry Brown’s, have ballooned to $68 billion, far more than what Musk believes it will cost to build the Hyperloop.