The Hyperloop Will Not Save Us
Tomorrow never "no"sDavid Becker / Getty Business Features Elon Musk
We are all officially clavicle-deep in the bone-and-meat-slurry of the future. Maybe it’s long past time us to ask what cancerous star we were born under that led us here, to Kill Valley Prime. In that note, it’s interesting to discover that the newest innovation, the Hyperloop One, is picking ten possible loops around the world. I’d prefer the route that got straight to the point. Talking, not helping, is Silicon Valley’s solution for the world.
According to The Verge,
Hyperloop One has announced 10 winning submissions in a long-running contest to find what it believes to be the best places to build the first hyperloop tracks in the world. Ten teams across five countries (Mexico, India, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada) were picked from the original 2,600 submissions, and the routes range in size from about 200 to nearly 700 miles, depending on the location. In addition to the winners, Hyperloop One announced that it’s performing a feasibility study with the Colorado Department of Transportation that “examines transportation demand, economic benefits, proposed routes and potential strategies, regulatory environments and alignment with overall CDOT high-speed travel, rail and freight plans,” according to the company’s press release.
I’d like to use this moment to point out that the Hyperloop, like libertarian versions of paradise, has yet to be built. It joins the ranks of the certifiably pipe-dreamed, the same celebrated company as Ryugyong Hotel in North Korea, the Cincinnati Subway, and a peaceful post-American Iraq.
What evidence does the Hyperloop have? Why, the same evidence Silicon Valley always has: studies showing how important it would be for other people to pay for their dream. That’s the long and short and looped of it. If private investors aren’t biting, then the public ones will. No astonishment there. To quote The Verge again:
The teams had some real backing from the sorts of investors and regulatory bodies you’d expect would need to be involved in a project like this. The team that designed the Chicago / Columbus / Pittsburgh proposal, for example, was supported by the Ohio Regional Planning Commission, the Indiana Department of Transportation, the Ohio Department of Transportation, the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, the Columbus Airport Authority, and more.
The Hyperloop is Elon Musk’s baby, and no wonder. Almost all of Musk’s plans involve him getting huge tax breaks from the government to build infrastructure which will be to the glory of him, Elon Musk. I’m as shocked as you are.
The Hyperloop has been spreading its hypergospel on the waters for several years now: “feasibility studies” have been executed in Moscow, London, Switzerland—and between Finland and Stockholm, where a three-hundred mile miracle loop would end up costing about, oh, $21 billion. As Verge acknowledges, “Many city officials (and dwellers) around the world want to believe so badly that a hyperloop could solve their sometimes massive local transportation problems that they’re willing to stay extremely close to these ongoing projects and thought experiments. …”
But that’s the irony. There are unglamorous solutions to these troubles. New York City used to have the greatest subway system in the world, a hundred years ago. Now the system is being starved to death (an entirely-avoidable death) by the indifference and callousness of the state and city government. The solutions are there already. We don’t need over-fed CEOs to invent miracle cures; we need medical care for everyone. That’s the solution. And the plans are old news: tax the wealthy and get medical care for every American. Waiting for invention to save the public is a great excuse for the governing class to not do its job. It is long past time that thought process ended.
The men designing the Hyperloop will be praised for genius, but someone else is paying the bills. The Hyperloop is not newfangling at all, but, rather the oldest song in the world: the many pay for the few want to do, and few get the credit. Now, what’s more traditional than that?