Hyperloop Takes Shape In The American Heartland

The Missouri Hyperloop Coalition will pivot to financing a new mode of transportation following the results of a feasibility study.

A number of companies including Elon Musk’s Boring Company, Virgin Hyperloop One, Transpod, DGW, Arrivo, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies have all sought to construct a functioning hyperloop. But, to date, Virgin Hyperloop One (VHO) is the only company to have built a full-scale hyperloop test system.


A coalition led by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT), and the St. Louis Regional Chamber is planning to create a financing package for a roughly 239-mile Hyperloop system by the end of 2019.

The decision to explore a financing package comes on the heels of a recent report from the Missouri Hyperloop Coalition confirming the commercial and technical feasibility of a planned system that will connect Kansas City, Columbia, and St. Louis along the I-70 corridor.

“This is no longer just a theoretical possibility,” Andrew Smith, vice president of entrepreneurship and innovation for the chamber, said in a statement. “It is a realistic and attainable goal for Missouri.”

The coalition also includes the KC Tech Council, the University of Missouri System, and the Missouri Innovation Center in Columbia.

While some commuters are still trying to wrap their heads around fully autonomous vehicles, Hyperloop offers an even more exciting vision for transportation: magnetically-levitated pods housed inside of frictionless tunnels that can propel passengers or cargo at the speed of an aircraft without ever having to leave the ground. The system is designed to be orders of magnitude safer and more reliable than high-speed rail, maglev or cars and doesn’t require upheaval for wildlife or disruption to other forms of transport.

A number of companies including Elon Musk’s Boring Company, Virgin Hyperloop One, Transpod, DGW, Arrivo, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies have all sought to construct a functioning hyperloop. But, to date, Virgin Hyperloop One (VHO) is the only company to have built a full-scale hyperloop test system.

VHO last year spearheaded a global challenge in which states and municipalities could present their individual cases for having hyperloops constructed in a route or region. The company in a statement noted that Missouri became a key contender in part because the state’s topography is conducive to the technology. VHO added that there is a possibility bureaucracy and planning time for a hyperloop project may be reduced because government, the private sector and local universities are working in concert to explore development of a hyperloop system.


“This is no longer just a theoretical possibility,” Andrew Smith, vice president of entrepreneurship and innovation for the chamber, said in a statement. “It is a realistic and attainable goal for Missouri.


Time and Cost Savings

The report confirms the viability of a I-70 based route across Missouri, specifically between St. Louis and Kansas City. It also notes that, compared to all existing modes of transportation, a Hyperloop system could reduce travel time between Kansas City and St. Louis by approximately three hours, and cut the time needed to travel to Columbia by approximately 1.5 hours.

Savings as a result of travel time reductions are estimated at as much as $410 million per year, according to the report. Moreover, societal cost savings are projected at roughly $91 million per year, owing to fewer traffic accidents.

According to the report, commuter savings could likely increase travel demand for the route by an estimated 80%, or 16,000 to 51,000 riders per round trip. It also recommends that the Kansas City and St. Louis portals be planned for 6,000 peak hour riders, while the portal in Columbia should be planned for roughly 3,000 passengers.

However, there is no set determination about where to build the hyperloop stations (“portals”) themselves in order to make it easy for commuters to connect to regional transportation hubs once they arrive in a given city. Additionally, while the report also notes that VHO’s linear infrastructure costs for a hyperloop system clock are approximately 40% less than comparable high-speed rail projects around the world, and deliver faster speeds it is unlikely that building a hyperloop will be cheap.

Estimates for a hyperloop system linking Denver and Pueblo, Wyoming are in the range of $24 billion, according to local media outlets. Neither the Missouri Hypoerloop Coalition members nor VHO provided information about the cost of constructing a hyperloop system in Missouri.

Some express confidence in the hyperloop, in spite of the costs. Virgin Hyperloop One CEO Rob Lloyd said he was thrilled with the results of the study, which he called the “first phase of actualization for a full-scale commercial hyperloop system.”

Start typing and press Enter to search

FACEBOOK
TWITTER
LINKEDIN
Dallas skyline in the background with a DART Red Line train crossing a bridge over a freeway in the foreground.dallas