Dr. V sent me a link to a CNN article on Elon Musk’s new transportation adventure, supporting ET3 in creating the Hyperloop – a transcontinental pneumatic tube that will deliver you from New York to Los Angeles in 45 minutes.
Alfred Ely Beach tried this idea back in late 1860s under Broadway in New York. A single car was propelled along the track by a giant fan. The one-block operation was to demonstrate the possibilities, but the project ended there.
The Hyperloop would rely on magnetic levitation and vacuum sealed tubes. The project touts that it could build the whole system for a fraction of a traditional high speed rail system. Matt Novak at Paleofuture points out the reality of building such a system across the US: that creating tubes on upright supports across the nation is no easy feat through the existing urban landscapes. The system, promising speeds of 4,000 mph, can also not have any sharp turns. Tunneling the project would negate the savings on the technology.
But we need to keep thinking big, rather than treading water. Transportation makes us happen as a culture. Fast transit could turn our cities more into neighborhoods of each other. Affordability remains the linch pin.