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Transportation United States

Elon Musk Says He Has a Green Light To Build a NY-Philly-Baltimore-DC Hyperloop (theverge.com) 308

An anonymous reader shares a report:Elon Musk just tweeted that his Boring Company tunnel project has just received "verbal [government] approval" to build a hyperloop connecting New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, DC. While we work to verify his claim, Musk is continuing to tweet more details about the project. The hyperloop, an ultrafast method of travel first developed by Musk in 2013, would only take 29 minutes to travel between New York City and DC, he claims. And it would feature "up to a dozen or more" access points via elevator in each city. Update: Eric Phillips, press secretary for the New York City mayor, tweeted, "This is news to City Hall," adding "The entirety of what we know about this proposal is what's in Mr. Musk's tweet. That is not how we evaluate projects of any scale."
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Elon Musk Says He Has a Green Light To Build a NY-Philly-Baltimore-DC Hyperloop

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  • by danbert8 ( 1024253 ) on Thursday July 20, 2017 @12:43PM (#54846545)

    I doubt anyone in the government verbally approved a project that is likely in the hundred of billions...

    • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Thursday July 20, 2017 @12:46PM (#54846577)
      ^^ This.

      Show me a continuous, buildable line between those three cities and I'll show you more governing bodies (not to mention NIMBY NGOs and regulators) than you had kids your high school class.
      • I didn't see any suggestion from Musk that this would be publicly financed. Given the massive number of jobs that such a project would create, I'd doubt government would stand in the way on principal alone. That doesn't mean there won't be more government interest in the route or the regulation of the service if/when it was ever to come into existence.

        • they'll kill it by every single governing body between and including those cities wanting their hands in the cookie jar.

      • We can even get rail lines from Philadelphia to our largest and busiest suburbs (King of Prussia and West Chester). In both cases, the lines are endless blocked because they don't want "those" people having access to their towns.

      • ^^ This. Show me a continuous, buildable line between those three cities and I'll show you more governing bodies (not to mention NIMBY NGOs and regulators) than you had kids your high school class.

        No need to show you, its been verbally green lighted. I'm sure they thought it all through, after all who would dare give a verbal green light if it weren't vetted. Verbal green lights must be taken seriously, for they spark global media attention.

        • by elrous0 ( 869638 )

          Courts have ruled that verbal green lights are the best green lights of them all. They're shiny and fun!

      • by kenh ( 9056 )

        Show me a continuous, buildable line between those three cities...

        It's under ground - no need to have a right of way in the conventional above-ground manner.

        I can't imagine any actual civic leader giving a "verbal" green light to a project and having it mean ANYTHING.

    • by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Thursday July 20, 2017 @12:52PM (#54846639) Homepage Journal

      Hundreds of billions? You're forgetting that Musk has found ways to reduce the cost of tunneling from $1B/mile to 25c (and 10c at weekends.) His Hyperloop technology is revolutionary and won't be a barf ride, cramped, and ear splittingly loud so stop saying that - they've proven it works in NV or New Mexico by building a small test track where they totally proved that you can put things in pipes and make them move, which is the same thing yes it is.

      This is an amazing technology, one of the variants Musk has been proposing is going to totally end the problems associated with roads and congestion by moving your car right to the centers of major metropolises like Chicago and New York City, which are both famous for having ample space to drive around and park.

      Truly a visionary, and he's not just trying to cripple real public transportation projects politically by proposing "cheap", "private" alternatives in order to prop up his car company, so stop saying that.

      • by eepok ( 545733 )
        Wow. I'm going full Poe's Law here. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poe%27s_law)

        Either way, color me entertained!
      • Even though I disagree with the "theme" of your post, I would mod you up "+1 Funny" if I hadn't already commented in this thread. Made me LOL, thanks. ;-)

      • by OzPeter ( 195038 )

        Truly a visionary, and he's not just trying to cripple real public transportation projects politically by proposing "cheap", "private" alternatives in order to prop up his car company, so stop saying that.

        And nobody is going to believe this one amazing trick that Musk will use on the project!

      • by elrous0 ( 869638 )

        Hey, if Musk could figure out how to get a rocket to Mars by 2020, he can do anything!

    • Then again, if it was a private tweet from Trump... that would count as White House policy. As for the cost, you might well be off by a couple orders of magnitude. IIRC, Elon's original hyperloop white paper estimated the cost of the SF-to-LA 'loop at around six or eight billion. Add in your fudge factors for Elon's notorious optimism and turning it into a 'gubmint' project... and I still think you'd be in the tens of billions, rather than hundreds. FWIW...

    • by nine-times ( 778537 ) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Thursday July 20, 2017 @01:00PM (#54846705) Homepage
      I don't particularly doubt that *someone* in the government would give verbal approval. I doubt that there's someone in the government who has the authority and influence to give verbal approval and have it mean anything.
    • by jandrese ( 485 )
      My first reaction on seeing the words "verbal agreement" is "you got jack shit". Nothing happens in DC on just a verbal agreement, and definitely not some multi-billion dollar porkstravaganza.

      Do you think he called Donald Trump directly and said "I'd like to do a bigly infrastructure project, would you like that?"

      Also, is he planning to build a tunnel from DC to NYC? That would be by far the longest tunnel in the world. The current record holder is the Guangzhaou Metro tunnel, at 37.5 miles. This
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by BasilBrush ( 643681 )

        Yes, probably he did ask Trump. And Trump probably did say yes. Because that's the kind of thing Trump does.

        • by Kjella ( 173770 )

          Yes, probably he did ask Trump. And Trump probably did say yes. Because that's the kind of thing Trump does.

          Well, if Musk is anything like a friend of mine then "That sounds like a good idea, why don't you draft up a proposal?" counts as approval. Then again he'll also take any casual remark on something that might happen at some unspecified point in the future as a done deal coming any day now and any girl that looks his way or says two kind words is flirting with him.

      • by mspohr ( 589790 )

        He got verbal approval from mafia don Jared Kushner which is the way our government works now under boss Trump.
        That's all he really needs.

    • by mspohr ( 589790 )

      Apparently it was Jared Kushner who "approved" the project.
      This is the way our totalitarian capitalist government works. Just get the OK from the mafia boss representative of "the family" and you're good to go.

    • by elrous0 ( 869638 )

      Considering the amount of red tape you have to sludge through just to build a simple apartment building in any of those cities, I would rate the likelihood that Musk is full of shit at about 99.999%.

  • Next: 'Tunnelling from Godalming to Java'? Jumping the English channel? Eating a cathedral? Summarizing Proost?

  • Really? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Daetrin ( 576516 ) on Thursday July 20, 2017 @12:58PM (#54846679)
    "The hyperloop, an ultrafast method of travel first developed by Musk in 2013"

    By "first developed" you presumably mean "applied some minor tweaks and a 'cool' name to a basic concept that's been around for over two centuries"?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    Certainly Musk might end up being the first person to get a practical vacuum tube transportation network working, but crediting him with developing the idea himself seems a bit much.
    • by eepok ( 545733 )
      By applied, you presumably mean "had some ideas to tweak other peoples' aged ideas"? He had yet to "develop" anything except for very small values of "develop". If he has "developed" the Hyperloop, then I have "developed" a universal job search engine-- that being I've thought about it a lot and made some rough sketches of some relational DBs.
    • People have had the idea and mothballed it almost 2 centuries ago. Turns out physics' a bitch and making vacuums requires lots of energy (potential energy, laws of thermodynamics and all that). At least last time they tried underground where you have a bunch of dirt to contain the system instead of a tube of sheet metal.

      Musk got around to having a single car go 50mph in a tunnel after 4 years. Doesn't bode well for the project.

    • Re:Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by BasilBrush ( 643681 ) on Thursday July 20, 2017 @01:42PM (#54847105)

      Innovation is very little about having completely new ideas. It's about execution. Many people might have fantasised about vacuum tube transport, but Musk is the one to actually get people started on doing it for real. That's the real achievement.

      Completely new ideas are very, very rare.

  • Multiple access points is the scariest thing to me. That means that while you are going upteen jillion miles per minute, you might accidentally have an elevator in front of you in the tunnel. That makes the security engineering way more complex.
    • Branch off the main line for the elevators. Like a pitstop. Then all you have to do is make sure there are no collisions coming out of the pitstop back onto the mainline. And that's technically trivial.

    • I would assume the elevator doesn't actually intersect the main tunnel, but rather an underground station/siding where loaded cars would then wait for an opening large enough for them to merge into the through traffic.

  • Remember two hours of groping, humiliation and 4th Amendment violation.

  • by Headw1nd ( 829599 ) on Thursday July 20, 2017 @01:00PM (#54846711)
    So I have some friends who are of the belief that Musk is just a consummate shyster, and I have disagreed, pointing to promising results with SpaceX and favorable sales from Tesla. This kind of talk makes me believe that there might be something to their concerns. I assume "verbal approval" from the gov't means that he asked someone (who knows who) if in theory he could do this and they said "sure", which counts for all of nothing. What this doesn't sound like is the well-established plan of an enterprise that is going to go forward.
    • Tesla was a good idea because the market wanted it and Musk capitalized on it. Same goes for his previous ideas. He's right that the market needs a high speed system between cities but Musk just has ideas, engineers do the work, and making an electric car is relatively easy even though it is far from his original promise (first model was going to have 300+ miles of range and second model was going to be affordable by families), it's taken many iterations to get Teslas to the point they are.

      Making electric c

      • LHC needs a complete vacuum. Hyperloop doesn't. It just needs low pressure. Pressure in the ballpark that a high flying passenger jet would encounter.

        • by x0ra ( 1249540 )
          Still HL, per km, is about 9x the volume of the LHC (assuming a 10m diameter tube).
      • by BasilBrush ( 643681 ) on Thursday July 20, 2017 @02:02PM (#54847317)

        "Tesla was a good idea because the market wanted it and Musk capitalized on it."

        Absolutely not true. Musk essentially created the successful EV market. Previously electric vehicles were thought of as slow and heavy and ugly. OK for commercial vehicles and for cars for rich environmentalists. And that's it. Very small niches.

        Musk created the perception with the Roadster and then the Model S, that electric cars could be very fast and luxurious. It's almost totally down to him showing the way that nearly every other manufacturer has now gone all out to produce electric cars.

        You may not remember now, but the idea of packing a sports car with lithium-ion laptop batteries was novel when the Tesla Roadster was launched.

        • The market was there. Plenty of people wanted an electric car. Musk was just the first to deliver a product that was acceptable to the market (although arguably Prius went half way there).
    • Musk has succeeded at a lot of amazing things. And not so many public failures. So why on earth would anyone call him a shyster?

      Smells of jealousy. A lot of geeks hate people that are successful.

    • Easy explanation. This is market testing. Chuck the idea out to the public, watch what is said, use the results to sharpen the point of your thrust, which comes later.

      A big headline creates waves. Study the waves and you see the obstacles and advocates to actual implementation of the idea well before it is "make or break" time.

      Operating in a vacuum is good for the line itself, not for developing the line.

  • by Ed Tice ( 3732157 ) on Thursday July 20, 2017 @01:04PM (#54846741)
    This seems to be the one route in the US where a train service can make money so it's no surprise that he *wants* to build this route. If he could bore under existing railway rights of way, it should be a relatively simple project from an administrative standpoint (no worrying about easements et cetera). The tracks would then carry only freight and the number of tracks would be reduced in favor of green space and walking trails. Amtrak would go bankrupt and there would never be a public train service in this country again. I'll let others opine whether this is good or bad but certainly would be the outcome.
    • by bobbied ( 2522392 ) on Thursday July 20, 2017 @01:27PM (#54846955)

      Problem is that at the speeds the Hyper loop is supposed to go, the existing right of way with all the twists and turns is has won't work very well. Musk needs as straight of a shot as he can manage to make the high speeds comfortable for the passengers. As it stands now, it would be one heck of a roller coaster ride to do that trip in 29 min using the existing right of way.

      • by Topwiz ( 1470979 )

        The existing Acela train doesn't go very fast in some areas because of sharp turns and areas where the tracks are too close to each other.

      • by mspohr ( 589790 )

        I think that's why he wants to build a tunnel.

      • by kenh ( 9056 )

        It's an underground railway/maglev system, it can be as straight as he wants it to be.

    • by kenh ( 9056 )

      The tracks would then carry only freight and the number of tracks would be reduced in favor of green space and walking trails.

      You can't have walking trails alongside active freight lines, and most places in the northeast are single-track already, not many places where there are multiple parallel tracks for any meaningful distance.

      Amtrak would go bankrupt and there would never be a public train service in this country again.

      Amtrak IS bankrupt, as evidenced by the massive subsidies we shovel into the system each year.

      • I guess it depends on your definition of "alongside." Here's an example of the Conotton Creek Trail. https://www.google.com/maps/pl... [google.com] The Northeast corridor is part of that subsidy. Take it away and we'll have to either let Amtrak stop operating or make up the lost profits in additional subsidies.
  • If they get it built I hope they expand to include more cities. Gettting to go from Boston to NY quickly would be great. Would much rather jump on this than a plane.

    • by kenh ( 9056 )

      Gettting to go from Boston to NY quickly would be great.

      The Amtrak train takes 4 1/2 hours and costs about $50, the Accela train shaves an hour off that trip for a bit more.

      Flight time between Boston and NYC is about an hour and 11 minutes.

      How much are you willing to spend to shave some time off the above current travel times?

  • Verbal approval from which government official for exactly what?

    It could be from the local dog catcher who agreed that he'd do his level best to convince all the animals under his control to help dig the holes?

    By the way... VERBAL approval means almost nothing... Heck, WRITTEN approval from the government is about worthless too... This only means that Musk had a conversation with somebody who said something Musk is interpreting to mean they agreed to something about this project. It could be as simple as

    • True, I once got verbal consent to DVR an NFL football game, rather than the express written consent I needed.

      Damned game didn't record.

  • by swell ( 195815 ) <jabberwock AT poetic DOT com> on Thursday July 20, 2017 @01:40PM (#54847079)

    New York City is built upon the North Atlantic Plate, a mass of solid rock extending from Canada and whose nearest boundary is in the mid Atlantic. The skyscrapers of the city have their foundations on that rock. It is difficult to imagine how the Boring machine would penetrate that mass. Certainly not at the affordable cost that has been mentioned here.

    While there have been smallish earthquakes in the area, a tunnel through solid rock should be relatively immune to such disturbances. Tunneling through California might be more of a risky venture.

    • by Whorhay ( 1319089 ) on Thursday July 20, 2017 @02:48PM (#54847735)

      The solid rock substrate is unlikely to be a cause for concern. There have already been numerous tunnels dug all over the world using similar technology, as well as techniques far more ancient, through solid rock. I expect the economy gains will mostly come from the fact that the proposed hyper loop tunnels are very small compared to other bored tunnels. Consequently less rock has to be removed, and less materials used to line and seal the tunnel.

  • A verbal green light means almost nothing---some guy with some authority somewhere likes it. It doesn't give Musk so much as a construction permit.

    Don't mistakte this for a lack of enthusiasm. I like the Hyperloop concept, and American transit desperately needs modernization.

    But if I had to bet on whether this will be in service within 5-10 years... I would have to bet against it.

    Musk needs three states and DC to agree---on top of the feds remaining unobtrusive (EPA, DOT, and DHS in particular). I hope he h

  • by Koreantoast ( 527520 ) on Thursday July 20, 2017 @01:59PM (#54847281)
    This quote from the article said it best:

    Approval needed from: Federal DOT; 6 states; 17 counties; numerous cities; hundreds of elected officials. Definitely happening rapidly. @yfreemark

  • The last time a hyper loop thread came up I learned some things about it from links someone posted about the problems associated with establishing and maintaining a vacuum vessel need for this application. The explosive energy in such a system is indeed daunting. Even the most trivial bit of sabotage, let alone run-of-the-mill failures can set it off.

    Since then I haven't seen any convincing answers to those issues. You just don't need to be very advanced in physics to understand them. Does anyone here ha

  • So it is like a series of tubes?

    Been there, done that.
  • by jfdavis668 ( 1414919 ) on Thursday July 20, 2017 @03:06PM (#54847867)
    It is easier to get approval to send men to Mars than it does to build a tunnel from DC to NY.
    • by kenh ( 9056 )

      It is easier to get approval to send men to Mars than it does to build a tunnel from DC to NY.

      Space travel doesn't cross state lines.

  • Commuter flights from NYC to DC are 1 hour 10 minutes, tarmac to tarmac, this service will cut that to 29 minutes - but it will retain all the TSA delays, ticketing issues, etc - this will not be an interstate subway system where you just walk on/walk off...

    Of course, if it has to stop in Philly and Baltimore, each stop adds at least 15 minutes to the travel time, and there goes your time savings.

  • Jobs-ian genius (Score:5, Interesting)

    by J. T. MacLeod ( 111094 ) on Thursday July 20, 2017 @03:46PM (#54848173)

    Of course Elon Musk didn't get verbal approval for the entire track. Perhaps he had the merest hint of a suggestion from someone (DOT? Two people on city councils at either end?).

    Getting actual approval from all the different cities, states, counties, and regulatory bodies involved will be an enormous undertaking. The fastest way to get this sort of discussion happening at all of these levels is probably to... force people involved to deny it.

    A single tweet and suddenly you have multiple nationwide news articles and, most critically, everyone responsible for approval at every level talking about it. They're talking about it to nail down who said, but they're talking about it. As are all their constituents and peers.

    The largest hurdle when dealing with so many people in authority is simply tendency toward inaction. With a tweet, he has solved that. Forcing people to say "he won't be approved without following the process" removes the option of sitting on it silently whether out of apathy or to gain leverage.

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