SF-LA Hyperloop Dreams Fading

You’ll get from L.A. to San Francisco in 30 minutes, they said. It’s cheaper and faster than high-speed rail, they said. It won’t crash and it will run on solar power, they said.

The buzz started in May that a Hyperloop transportation service would be coming to California someday after two companies started aggressively pursuing the technology. A third company, working out of NASA’s research park in the Bay Area, was also planning to test smaller vehicles in Nigeria. Elon Musk, the battery man behind Tesla, SpaceX, and other ventures, was touting the concept and saying it would be far less expensive than the California high-speed rail project and much faster.

But now all of the momentum seems to be moving overseas now - and out of the realm of public service.

In a blog post today, Hyperloop One says it struck a deal with Dubai’s Port of Jebel Ali to build a test tube for moving shipping cargo around. The idea is to see if it’s adept enough at transporting cargo so that ports could be located inland, which makes them cheaper to build. And when something’s cheaper to build, guess who wins? A few rich guys do!

Hyperloop One also says it’s testing something at the L.A. and Long Beach ports, so it hasn’t completely given up on California. But, again, that project has nothing to do with moving people around at warp speed for pennies on the dollar.

But perhaps one of the other Hyperloop companies will still build an L.A.-to-S.F. route. The less-sexy-named Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, for instance, is working on a transit system for a small and new town somewhere in the middle of nowhere. It says of Quay Valley: “[It] will be a model town for the 21st century, a self-sustaining community that seamlessly melds the best qualities of new urbanism with the traditions of the San Joaquin Valley’s small rural towns while carefully preserving the natural surroundings of the area.” Whatever that means.

We’re hoping it works out and supersonic tube travel is a thing of the near future, because high-speed rail will probably never happen (or not for decades) and who wants to rely on the overnight bus, a crappy old plane, or a crappy old Amtrak? Plus, the Sleep Bus is so popular it’s no longer taking reservations.

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