HYPE-err-Loop! 700 MPH Cleveland-Chicago Train Actually Gets Taxpayer Cash

The House approved $5 million in initial funding to study hyperloops, including one in the upper Midwest.

Will Americans ever commute at the speed of sound or merely dream of it?
Will Americans ever commute at the speed of sound or merely dream of it?

If a 28-minute ride between Chicago and Cleveland at the speed of sound seems too good to be true, well then you’re not dreaming big enough. Or fast and long enough.

The Great Lakes Hyperloop System took one step closer to the Jetsons acid trip it was conceived from last month when the U.S. House of Representatives somehow set aside $5 million for the federal Department of Transportation to determine whether the futuristic transit system is safe to use, how it will affect the environment, and what regulatory obstacles exist.

The provision to examine hyperloops, a raised vacuum tube designed to shoot two dozen souls in levitating magnetic capsule at 700 miles per hour, was included in the House’s $87-billion budget bill late last month.

The budget bill will now move onto the Senate at a speed roughly equivalent to a Washington Metro bus.

The hyperloop has its fans in Congress. Ohio Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, a Democrat, said the allocation will give a supersonic jolt to the fiscal health of the upper Midwest.

“Bringing hyperloop to our region would bolster economic growth, create jobs, strengthen Ohioans’ ability to travel across the region quickly and efficiently, and improve the daily lives of millions of Americans,” she told Cleveland.com.

Perhaps decision makers were also enticed by a slickly produced video from Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, the transit company behind the system, which teases the elongated metal suction system will “eventually become a utility” and “something people will talk of for generations.”

“Flying 700 miles an hour through a tube using magnets and sunlight isn’t a dream,” the ad’s gravely voice intoned. “It’s a ‘We’re building this and coming to the Midwest to do it’ thing. A ‘We’ve already got a prototype’ thing. A ‘Millions in funding to survey it’ thing.”

The millions in funding part was certainly correct. Ohio business leaders and transportation and environmental planners with the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency have thrown in for the loop, splitting the cost of a $1.2-million feasibility study with HTT earlier this year.

Yet hyperloop projects in other parts of the country have run into speed bumps.

An Elon Musk proposal last year to build a high-speed transit tube between Chicago’s downtown and O’Hare International Airport may be getting plugged up after the city’s new mayor said the project was unnecessary.

And residents of Greenbelt, Md., vociferously objected to Musk’s 35-mile Baltimore-to-Washington loop proposal during a public comment phase for the project after the federal Department of Transportation completed its environmental assessment in April.

Musk’s twin underground corridors offer to zip passengers up to 600 miles per hour underneath the Baltimore-Washington Parkway in 15 minutes, and eventually between New York and DC in under 29 minutes. The project does not have a start date, but, he says, would take between 15 and 23 months to build if ever approved.

A passenger trip to Mars might be more of a sure bet.

11 thoughts on HYPE-err-Loop! 700 MPH Cleveland-Chicago Train Actually Gets Taxpayer Cash

  1. If Hyperloop does ever work, I think that the plains and midwest might be the best place for it – there are some cities that are quite far apart (so that the extremely high speeds really are an advantage), with no challenging terrain between them (which would make it completely cost-prohibitive). Denver to Minneapolis would be my preferred route, given how little there is in the way between them (anything to or from Chicago would have to bypass several cities on the way to anything far enough away to be worth hyperloop).

    I doubt it’ll work out any time soon, but it might be worth a little study.

  2. It’s so easy to throw a few millions dollars away on a study. So hard to allocate real money on proven transit solutions that actually work!

  3. I’m skeptical of the feasibility of Hyperloop but am glad someone is going for it! That’s how we’ll learn if it can be a realistic option vs some unrealized fantasy.

  4. Why in the hell would I want to travel so fast in a sealed tube that I couldn’t see outside? Pure hype and not environmentally sound! Regular 160 mph High Speed Rail like I used in France is fast enough, and hourly 60-100 mph trains are fine for most journeys. Arthur C. Clarke said “Communicate, not commute” for pure business needs. For pleasure, the journey is as important as the destination. Otherwise, information travels faster, cheaper, safer, and cleaner.

  5. There is absolutely no evidence that this stupid idea even works at all. But at least the name is accurate because it is nothing but pure HYPE.

  6. Mark Kelly I sincerely doubt you’re actively keeping up with the latest developments from Hardt Hyperloop and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies. They now have actual test tubes, with vacuum pumps, electromagnet tracks, and vehicles.

    But maybe you mean there’s no evidence hyperloops will be financially viable. Well company costs are proprietary secrets, so they’re not going to just tell us yet. So you keep on doubting, and then give a surprised pikachu face.gif when they actually build a hyperloop in a place like Dubai-Abu Dhabi that people can ride. Then give us a second surprised pikachu face when a second country gets the second hyperloop.

  7. The Democratic house. Never forget Liberals piss away cash faster than a drunk sailor on payday. 5 million dollars is nothing compared to the Billions on high speed rail that’s equally useless

  8. Why all this snark and speed puns for a possible alternative to congested roads and backlogged airports? (I expect this kind of luddite tone from Breitbart, not Streetsblog.) And since we’re using speed puns; getting the USA up to speed on HSR isn’t exactly breaking land speed records. If Abu Dhabi or even China get their hyperloops up and running, then I wouldn’t write off any possible USA hyperloops just yet.

  9. Snark is the only thing conservative minded people have left. Why is transportation a partisan issue is this country? Why don’t people want balanced transit networks?

  10. First of all, intercity travel is outside the “core concerns” of Streetsblog. Second, it’s one thing to build a laboratory model of a “Hyperloop”; scaling it up to a practical transport system is the big challenge. One could ask, “Are there enough people in a big enough hurry to get from Chicago to Cleveland to make such a system economically feasible?” In the field of commercial aviation, we have seen the Concorde SST become a museum piece, and Airbus is having trouble selling their A-380 planes. Another consideration is the fact that no matter how fast a transport vehicle moves, it has to come down to zero MPH/KPH to let the passengers get off. (full disclosure: I am a card-carrying railway enthusiast who has seen many different ideas presented that look cool on magazine covers but are hopelessly impractical in the real world.)

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