Thought of the Day: Hyperloop Affordability

Welcome to Thought of the Day! Join Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield as she poses a question for you all to think about and answer.

Today, we’re asking if the Hyperloop being built to connect Abu Dhabi with other cities in the region will be truly affordable for people to use — or if like Concorde and so many other fast forms of transport before it be only a rich person’s method of travel?

Watch the video above, and leave your thoughts in the Comments below.

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  • Albemarle

    I think the appeal of Hyperloop is the relatively inexpensive pipe rather than expensive tracks (maglev or ordinary) making the per kilometer costs more affordable. The land use will be similar. So in my mind, the question is the cost of the vehicles.

    Given the speed of travel, it’s probable that it will be high priced at first, like air travel, only moving down when infrastructure is all there and paid for and more money can be made by building volume.

    For me, (unless medicine makes a mortality breakthrough), a moot point because I don’t see the commercial practicality of Hyperloop for a hundred years.

    • George McGregor Wilson

      Commercial practicality is now.

      Cost/kilometre will eat road rail and air both in volume and speed as well as energy used.

      Computerised logistic systems at the level used by DHL and Amazon with a drone delivery system still needs nodes and fast access between nodes.

      From this extrapolation the pod could also house the end use drone be it cargo or passenger.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Land use would be far less. A pillar foundation every about every 100 feet. A rail system requires a wide swatch of land along the route. Not only for the track but a buffer/work zone on each side and a continuous fence to keep people and animals out.

      There should be places where the ‘loop can use the median or side of a highway and require no additional lane.

      Also consider the cost of traffic intersections, streams, ravines, etc. Because the ‘loop would sit far above traffic all that is needed is to not stick a pillar in the middle of a lane. Traffic can easily pass under at any spot other than pillar footings. Stream or dip to cross? Make the pillars taller.

      Almost certainly freight first. Prove the system for perhaps a year by transporting freight. Don’t risk people until the system is proven extremely safe.

      We have to quit burning fossil fuels in airplanes. We have limited alternatives.

      1) Fly using synthetic or biofuels. We can do it but at this point it might double or triple the cost of flying.

      2) High speed rail. Acceptable for moderate length travel. But people aren’t going to be willing to take rail from LA to NYC.

      3) Hyperloop. If it works. We could travel faster than jet. Spend less time getting to and from airports that are outside cities. It all runs on renewable energy – electricity from the solar panels on top of the tubes. No turbulence. Go from LA to the Houston hub in two hours (one movie). Switch to the Chicago or NYC line (two hours/one movie).

      • Martin Lacey

        Battery powered flight isn’t too far away (at least for short haul).

        • Bob_Wallace

          Travel from LA to NYC by battery powered plane is not on the horizon. The other three options are things which we could or might be able to implement now.

  • George McGregor Wilson

    They appear to be using Elon buisiness template.
    Build the platinum class first(roadster).
    Then it can evolve to a generic freight or passenger logistics system.
    Capture the high end investor/user first.

  • Tom in NY

    I wonder about the g-loads that a passenger will experience while the hyper loop makes even small changes in direction. While traveling at jet fighter speeds without the benefit of a g-suit or windows (to reduce nausea), I expect traveling in a hyperloop would be very uncomfortable. Use for cargo seems much more practical and would get diesel trucks off the road.

    • Bob_Wallace

      That’s spelled out in Elon’s “white paper”. Most turns would be nothing more than what we experience when flying. If it’s necessary to make a sharp turn the pod will slow down.

  • Chris O

    Hyperloop was pitched as an alternative for high-speed trains, only much cheaper. It remains to be seen if it things pan out like that but there is probably a better case to be made for high-speed trains to be prohibitively expensive/uneconomical.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Let’s talk real big cost. Climate change.

      OK, now let’s talk about how we avoid extreme climate change.

      Reduce greenhouse gases. Which includes the carbon that comes out of airplane engines. How do we do that?

      1) Fly using synthetic or biofuels. We can do it but at this point it might double or triple the cost of flying.

      2) High speed rail using clean electricity. Acceptable for moderate length travel. But people aren’t going to be willing to take rail from LA to NYC.

      3) Hyperloop. If it works. We could travel faster than jet while using clean electricity.

      These are the options we have right now. They’re all much, much cheaper than extreme climate change.

  • The comparison with the Concorde is cherry-picking the example to support your position. You could also have chosen the car, which was a toy for the rich and now within reach of nearly everyone in the developed world. Same with air travel. Or trains for that matter. All became affordable. But no, you chose to cherry-pick that one black swan: Concorde.

    You know better Nikki.

    Oh, and, by the way, do you know how much a trillion dollars is?

  • Joseph in Raleigh

    Not including the first installation or so) I believe it will be 1/2 the cost of air travel.

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