Florida Considers Elon Musk’s Hyperloop Train Project

Hyperloop all cutaway. Photo and Caption: Camilo Sanchez / Wikimedia Commons

According to a report in the Fort Myers News-Press, Florida is looking at a company developing a 700 mph hyperloop that could run from Tampa to South Florida. It allows small groups of passengers to travel in pods in tubes at high-speed, using magnetic fields. State and federal governments are recognize the value in this technology to protect travelers from high-density populations in trains and airplanes during health crises such as COVID-19. The U.S. Department of Transportation in July categorized hyperloop under the Federal Railroad Administration, making it eligible for government infrastructure funds.

Lucas Asher, an investor in Virgin Hyperloop says, “We are coming closer to realizing the dream of the hyperloop as a mode of public transportation.”

Hyperloop capsules are uniquely low density, allowing for speed and safety, yet they do not sacrifice a high volume of travel. Think about it this way: When you sit in an airplane, you are in a high-density environment alongside anywhere from 280 to 440 fellow passengers, all confined together in a small steel tube. Aside from the safety issues and weather concerns of modern commercial planes, this high-density environment makes commercial travel highly susceptible to pandemics.

On the other side of the coin, the hyperloop’s initial design carries about 30 to 40 passengers per sleek capsule, yet can still reliably deliver high volumes of people to their destination in a similar period of time.

Photo: www.news-press.com

Photo: www.news-press.com

Photo: www.news-press.com

The Hyperloop TT concept would include stops in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Bradenton, Sarasota, Venice, Fort Myers, Naples, Fort Lauderdale and Miami, the News-Press reported. They also reported that the state Legislature approved $1 million for the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority to look into the concept with studies through 2022 as part of an effort to study alternative forms of transportation.

California-based Hyperloop Transportation Technologies would develop the form of high-speed transportation that involves a pod that moves from place to place by use of pressure systems, the News-Press reported.

Even though hyperloop capsules can reach speeds of 760 miles per hour,this transportation sector appears to be stalled on a practical level. Nearly all high-density transportation, from airlines to bullet trains, has come to a near halt amid the worst pandemic in a hundred years. Amtrak cars are deserted, as the railroad passenger service weighs cutting more jobs and access to rural areas. Consulting firm Deloitte notes transportation organizations must contend with “skeletal” workforces and an “unexpected shortfall in their finances” for the foreseeable future.

HyperloopTT was founded in 2013 and has over 800 employees working for them across five continents. 

The transit authority, known as TBARTA, is authorized by the Legislature to spend the money on studies through 2022, and a time frame beyond that has not been determined. “The state Legislature had been getting requests to look at innovative forms of transit, particularly Hyperloop,” said Brian Pessaro, TBARTA’s principal planner. A state “subcommittee was looking for a state agency that could conduct the study, and they chose TBARTA.” Based on data obtained by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from a different study, it would cost $33 for a trip from the Steel City to Columbus, Ohio, which is similar in distance to our Naples-Tampa ride.