When I had the chance to ride around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway years ago, our vehicle exceeded 100 mph, although it didn’t seem we were going that fast. The Indy cars top out at about 260 mph on the straightaways and zoom past the fans in the blink of an eye.
It’s hard to imagine traveling three times that speed, but it could soon be a reality. Don’t worry … it won’t be you or me behind the wheel of a car. But we could be passengers on a new form of transportation that involves being whisked through a tube by use of magnetic levitation and linear electric motors.
There are a half-dozen companies working feverishly to perfect the details and concept of tube transportation. A handful employ Hyperloop technology — the most well known is a company called Hyperloop One out of Los Angeles — while Loop Global is a Fort Collins-based business that touts its ET3 method.
Basically, they’re both saying the new mode of transportation will move us comfortably at a faster speed than a commercial jet airliner.
Sounds fabulous to me. Imagine going to a Rockies game or a concert in Denver and the trip north could take less time than you spent standing in line for a drink at the event.
A nonprofit trade association, Hyperloop Advanced Research Project, was formed in Colorado Springs about six months ago to promote and advocate for the companies researching and testing this new form of transportation. HARP’s president is Dane Egli, a former national security director at the White House under President George W. Bush.
“This is a rapidly emerging industry,” Egli said.
HARP’s task, he said, is to “support, educate and research.”
“We’re trying to be a catalyst for a discovery that is already here — the reinvention of transportation,” Egli said. “It’s a bold new invention that could come to your neighborhood — and not in a future lifetime, but soon.”
By 2021, Hyperloop and ET3 both expect to have test tracks commercialized. Colorado Springs could be the site of one of those test tracks. D. Worthington, owner of Loop Global, said people should be able to experience the 3-mile ride for $100.
Egli said construction of commercial routes — like the high-speed train system — could begin “in four or five years.”
Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers isn’t well versed on the technical aspects of the new mode of transportation — but he likes the idea. In fact, he signed a letter encouraging the “construction of a commercial Hyperloop track” in Colorado Springs.
Suthers isn’t willing to commit city funds to Hyperloop’s research, development or testing but figures the new industry could bring jobs to the Pikes Peak region. And he’s willing to invest in a terminal if Hyperloop or ET3 becomes a reality and has a stop in the Springs.
“If there is a completed product and it’s a question of putting in a rail station and there’s a city investment in that — I think it’s realistic,” Suthers said.
Editor’s note: Read more about this new form of high-speed transportation in the Aug. 4 Business Journal.