Elon Musk’s plan to whisk travelers in pods floating in magnetic tubes is a long way off, if it ever sees the light of day. That doesn’t mean that progress isn’t happening with the futuristic transit idea that could eventually carry people between L.A. and San Francisco in 35 minutes.
First off, one of the two L.A. startups working to make Hyperloop a reality is raking in cash. Playa Vista’s Hyperloop Transportation Technologies reported $109 million in recent investments, which includes millions in land-rights and “donated man hours and services.” It’s not clear what they’ll use the bucks for—their competitor, the similarly-named Hyperloop One, used some of their funding for a demonstration of the magnet train in the Nevada desert.
Musk’s company SpaceX is also partnering with India to possibly set up a Hyperloop system between Mumbai and Nagpur, with the Indian government aiding in land acquisition. That’s an issue that Hyperloop is currently struggling with—how do they obtain the space to accommodate tens of thousands of pylons needed to operate the pods?
The problem will bedevil a California iteration of Hyperloop. The California High-Speed Rail Authority is still determining how to route the bullet trains to Los Angeles without blowing up their budget by buying up houses and buildings. While CHSRA will run partially underground and at surface level, Hyperloop will have to buy up its right-of-way and placate folks who would rather not stare at giant tubes from their kitchen window.
Some Reddit posters are batting around the idea of L.A.’s Hyperloop station, should it ever become a reality. DTLA makes the most sense for our local stop, as it’s already the hub of the county’s transit system. Connecting to Union Station would be an option, possibly adding the tubes atop a nearby freeway like the 5 or 101. But since Hyperloop has always been viewed as city-to-city transportation, it would be more practical to drop off and pick up passengers in the heart of the city, closer to the Financial District and the popular 7th/Metro station. That would require burying the Hyperloop tubes underground, if that’s even possible. If having the tubes above ground are a necessity, the Arts District could be a good alternative; close by to the heart of downtown, with lots of low-slung, underutilized buildings that could make way for a new transit center—with San Francisco a half-hour away, think of the artisanal coffee options!