A group of Missouri elected officials and business leaders continues to study how to fast-track the construction of a potential Hyperloop route. The Hyperloop, a futuristic ultra-fast tube travel system, could carry passengers from St. Louis to Kansas City in 28 minutes with a stop halfway in Columbia. A study says building a Hyperloop track along I-70 from St. Louis to Kansas City would cost about $10 billion.
Andrew Smith is the vice chair of the state group. He says building a 12 to 15-mile Hyperloop certification track in Missouri is a solid next step.
“The certification track would be built on that commercial route,” he says. “If we get the certification track, we’re going to get the route. It’s going to come through Missouri.”
Smith says a Hyperloop test track is in Las Vegas, but it’s only about one mile, goes about half as fast and is not commercial sized. He says the technology has made a couple of major leaps forward since then.
“If this is going to be a mode of transportation that is accessible to U.S. consumers and that is used to move light freight within the United States, we actually have to have a physical track that is operating at full speed and it has to be reviewed and certified by regulators,” Smith says.
The Hyperloop One track would largely be funded through private donations – similar to what is currently being done to bring the technology in India to connect the cities of Mumbai and Pune. Funding will most likely also come from federal funds.
“The cost to build the Hyperloop is about 40% less than high-speed rail, and it’s three times faster,” Smith said. “The operating costs of this system, because it’s so energy efficient, is about five cents per passenger mile – lower than any other existing form of transportation. We’re looking at a ticket price between $30 and $40 between Kansas City and St. Louis, less than a tank of gas.”
Smith said the Missouri Hyperloop Coalition he co-founded is also working to partner with universities in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky and other neighboring states that have the resources and incentives to create a multi-state system.
The group, selected by Missouri House Speaker Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield, plans to have its recommendations ready in September.
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