The Hyperloop—the Latest Idea from Elon Musk


By: Dr. Lynn Reaserhigh-speed-tube-01

Science fiction or a new game changer?  Elon Musk, the brains and driver behinSpaceX and Tesla Motors, has proposed the “Hyperloop” to whisk passengers from L.A. to San Francisco in only about thirty minutes.  The design would have pods riding on air bearings that move through tunnels under low pressure. 

Should the government back and embrace this possible new travel mode?  If “back” and “embrace” mean subsidize with public funds and taxpayer dollars, the answer is no.  The same answer applies to California’s much more expensive high-speed rail transit project.

The Hyperloop concept is a fascinating technology with significant economic potential.  However, private investors can be expected to step forward to explore that potential.  They are the appropriate players to supply the funds and assume the risks. Consumers might not want to be crammed into a small enclosed pod for even thirty minutes, causing take-up, at least initially, to be slow.  But the market can and should decide.

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