Plans are currently in place to bring a Hyperloop and a high-speed bullet train to California.
Last week, Hyperloop Technologies — a Los Angeles-based startup developing Hyperloop technology — announced its plans to complete an operational test track next year.
“Three years from now I believe that we will be designing and constructing the first two or three production Hyperloop systems in the world. Five years from now we will be moving goods and people,” Lloyd said during a CBS interview.
Dirk Ahlborn, CEO of another California-based company Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT), said the company will break ground in May of 2016 for a five-mile Hyperloop test track that will be located in Quay Valley outside of Los Angeles.
While plans are in place to complete a Hyperloop test track next year, a separate group of workers will begin construction a year from now on a high-speed bullet train connecting Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
Next September, China Railway International USA and XPressWest Enterprises will begin working on a 230-mile, high-speed rail, Bloomberg reported. It will be the first high-speed Chinese train in the United States.
Both forms of transportation will bring reprieve to travellers who must waste time stuck in traffic or opt for costly plane tickets to get between cities. But the Hyperloop is the better alternative transportation solution for several reasons.
Here are five reasons the Hyperloop is better than the bullet train:
The Hyperloop, a mode of transportation that shoots pods filled with people through vaccum sealed tubes, reaches speeds of more than 500 miles per hour. That will take commuters from San Francisco to LA, or vice versa, in just 30 minutes.
The bullet train will reach 150 miles per hour, taking people between Los Angeles and Las Vegas in 80 minutes.
For reference, the drive between San Francisco and LA is six to eight hours, depending on traffic. The Hyperloop will cut that commute to just 30 minutes. The drive between LA and Las Vegas is four hours. The train's ability to make four hours into 80 minutes is impressive, but just not on the same scale as the Hyperloop.
People taking the Hyperloop from LA to San Francisco will only need to pay $US30, bringing a roundtrip ticket to $US60. The XPressWest website puts the average price of a roundtrip ticket between LA and Las Vegas at $US89.
A plane ride from LA to Las Vegas ranges from $US71 to $US150, based on ticket prices at the time of writing, and lasts a little over an hour. If the bullet train can cost more and take longer than a typical plane ride, the only real incentive for taking the train would be to not deal with the hassle of security and lines (which is a good enough reason).
But the Hyperloop wins out either way, coming in far cheaper and much faster than the 80-minute plane ride (which costs $US125 at the time of writing) between San Francisco and LA.
Breaking it down even further, just consider the distance. It's $US60 for 766 total miles with the Hyperloop and $US89 for 460 total miles with the bullet train.
Ahlborn envisions that a Hyperloop capsule will come every 30 seconds, Wired reported.
Craig Hodgetts, the architect and designer who led UCLA's one-year program on developing the Hyperloop, also says Hyperloop pods are expected to arrive every 30 to 120 seconds.
The XPressWest bullet train will be built within or adjacent to California's I-15 highway and run every 20 minutes during peak times, the website says.
Musk originally projected the most advance Hyperloop project would cost $US7.5 billion. HTT doesn't think it can hit that mark, but says they could do it for around $US16 billion, according to Ars Technica.
Chinese papers reported that the California bullet train project will cost a total of $US12.7 billion, Quartz reported. That would put the bullet train at a lower price than HTT's projections, but considering the other perks of a Hyperloop, that price differentiation seems slight.
Additionally, $US12.7 billion seems costly for a train that isn't nearly as fast as the top bullet trains in the world.
Quite simply, more people are becoming invested in making the Hyperloop a reality everyday. The efforts of Hyperloop Technologies and HTT are testament to that alone, but now SpaceX is hosting a competition next year to find the best Hyperloop design.
With more people tossing their hat into the ring for a Hyperloop, it seems inevitable that this new mode of transportation will happen eventually. Coming in cheaper and faster, with plans to extend nationally, the Hyperloop seems like the best option.
Bullet trains certainly offer an efficient and enjoyable mode of transit, but the XPressWest train coming to California doesn't come close to reaching the top speeds of trains around the world. And for $US12.7 billion, it seems a shame California's bullet train won't compare to what's out there and what could be.
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