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The Hype Surrounding the Hyperloop

Perhaps Elon Musk didn’t get his idea for the Hyperloop from popular TV cartoon, Futurama. But the sketches sure do remind one of the futuristic show in which people are transported by giant tubes.

In reality, Musk’s idea for the Hyperloop is a bit more grounded in reality, even if it seems like something straight out of a sci-fi show. The Hyperloop is a city-to-city elevated transit system that is solar-powered.

People would ride in aluminum pods inside steel tubes – and reach speeds up to 800 miles per hour.

Joshua Schank, the president and CEO of the Eno Center for transportation, said, “If this were able to be constructed at the cost he claims and if politics and environmental challenges didn’t enter into it, it would be a fantastic way of using that technology and it would tap into a new market and provide tremendous benefits for travelers.”

Musk’s latest project has only added to his aura of being a tech guru. Musk is a shareholder in electric car company Tesla (TSLA), is the chairman of a solar panel company, Solar City, and owns space travel company, SpaceX.

Oh, and Musk was the guy behind Pay Pal, too.

The debut of the Hyperloop included a 57-page design plan. He claimed the transportation would be safer, faster, and more cost effective than California’s current plan for a high-speed rail system.

Musk estimated that the Hyperloop could be built for just $6 billion for people-only pods. Creating pods that could transport cars would bump the price to $10 billion. But not everyone is on board with those figures.

Schank says, “The estimates I’ve seen for this seem really low to me for a system that requires rights of way though major metropolitan regions which this one does. Even when you build an elevated, say an elevated train which we do all the time in transportation, there are substantial costs to that in terms of right of way and there are always environmental lawsuits challenging your ability to try to construct such rights of way because people don’t always want such elevated things whizzing by their houses.”