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Culture / Travel

Near Supersonic Tube Travel Eyes Texas

700 MPH Pod Zips Would Make a Houston-to-Dallas Trip an Easy Flash

BY // 04.08.17

While the proposed Dallas-to-Houston high speed rail came to a near halt this week, another more innovative, ground-breaking transportation project picked up speed. Hyperloop One, Tesla billionaire Elon Musk’s near supersonic transportation technology vision that would have people moving through high-speed tubes at 700 MPH, could be coming to Texas.

The proposed route for a Hyperloop Texas is one of the finalists in the Hyperloop One Global Challenge, a competition which could determine the location of the first Hyperloop networks.

The 11 U.S. finalists met in Washington D.C. this week to present their cases to the company, policymakers, and transportation experts. Steven Duong, the Dallas-based head of the Hyperloop Texas team at engineering firm AECOM, returned from the summit feeling confident.

“We feel we have a very strong proposal and we are very optimistic about making it into both the next round, and being one of the winning proposals in the end,” Duong tells PaperCity.

The proposed route for Hyperloop Texas would connect major cities in the Lone Star State, including Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, Houston, San Antonio, and Laredo. It’s been dubbed the Texas Triangle project.

With speeds up to 700 miles per hour, the Hyperloop could allow passengers to hop from city to city in mere minutes. Passengers would sit in large pods with train-like seating and be whisked through vacuum tubes. It’s not all together alien from the technology that banks have used for years to send cash and checks to customers doing drive-thru banking.

A high number of cross-state commuters, along with a growing population, and a strong economy make Texas a prime location to implement the futuristic travel technology — assuming it ever actually happens.

“A statistic we often seen thrown around is that by 2030, the population of Texas will be about the current population of all of Canada,” Duong says. “So, when you put that into context you understand that there’s some major issues we’re going to be running into the next decade or so, and that’s something we need to really start addressing now. The other thing is the distance between cities in Texas mega-region are really appropriate for this type of technology.”

While Texas presents a strong case for hosting a Hyperloop route, it’s going to be a long while before the project hits the ground — even if the Texas Triangle route is chosen.

“A statistic we often seen thrown around is that by 2030, the population of Texas will be about the current population of all of Canada.”

“All we’re doing at this point is kind of a vision exercise, a high-level visioning of what the technology may look like and would look like if it came to Texas, and a business case proposal of why Texas should be the first added,” Duong says.

Duong estimates it will be three to five years before the first Hyperloop system is actually built, and it’s not likely that it will be in the states to start with.

“We would probably see it proven somewhere else in the world with a freight implementation first before passengers, and eventually blowing out to the U.S.,” he says.

A Hyperloop test track has been built in the Las Vegas desert, but it’s only 500 feet long — and has topped out at 116 MPH.

If traveling at speeds of up to 700 mph in a tube sounds dangerous to you, Hyperloop backers insist that you you should put those worries aside.

“The way I would describe it to someone who is hesitant about the idea is that it’s not too different from flying in a plane, honestly,” says Duong. “The actual acceleration, the forces on your body, are no higher — and most likely less — than what you feel during takeoff.”

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