Elon Musk's Hyperloop is the Solution to the Public Transportation Crisis


Every once in awhile an idea comes around that is so innovative that it almost seems unbelievable. Elon Musk, the current Tesla and SpaceX CEO, and co-founder of PayPal, has sketched out the Hyperloop. This "train of the future" will consist of pods that float inside of tubes in the same way that the puck floats on an air hockey board. Musk has drawn up a futuristic train that is economically and environmentally friendly, and has . potential to fundamentally alter public transportation in the U.S. Musk should see his vision through, even if it involves campaigning for private funding to support the ambitious project.

The economic cost of the Hyperloop is estimated at $6 billion, one-tenth the cost of the decades-old plan for high-speed rail in California. . The pods are shot through environmentally friendly tubes that are powered by solar panels attached to the roof. Musk estimates the cost of a one-way ticket to be $20. He foresees 28 passengers per pod. The train can carry up to 840 passengers an hour, and 7.4 million passengers a year. Musk believes that the speed for the proposed high-speed rail is too slow, and has stated the top speed for the Hyperloop would be 760 mph. He estimates the project would take seven to 10 years to complete. As an entrepreneur, Musk knows the value of generating positive public opinion, and has posted his plans online encouraging others to improve upon his idea.

This idea is more cost-effective and environmentally friendly than the current high-speed rail plan being looked at by Gov. Jerry Brown (D), but Musk's vision may not be enough to get the project done. In 1996, the California High-Speed Rail Authority weighed the costs and benefits of a high-speed rail system. After 17 years of discussing and working toward high-speed rail, it has yet to happen. This could be the result of low public support for the project as less than half of Californians support such projects. Large-scale public transportation undertakings rarely move forward quickly, so if Musk wants to see his dream of the Hyperloop come to fruition, he may have to follow his entrepreneurial spirit and do it alone by soliciting private funding. Otherwise, it may become just a drawing of something before it's time.