Unlike Elon Musk’s Hyperloop technology which is years away from being developed there is a High Speed people mover already in use that would accomplish what the current High Speed Rail, HSR, is seeking to perform yet instead of the present price tag of $68 billion this superior technology would only cost $7.2 billion.
Over the last few weeks there has been a great amount of interest in Elon Musk’s idea of a Hyperloop train transporting people from Los Angeles to San Francisco at a fraction of the cost of the HSR project.
Elon Musk of Tesla Motors is quoted as stating, “How could it be that the home of Silicon Valley and JPL (NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory) — doing incredible things like indexing all the world’s knowledge and putting rovers on Mars — would build a bullet train that is both one of the most expensive per mile and one of the slowest in the world?”
Actually Mr. Musk is half right. It is true that High Speed Rail is significantly overrated however there is a company, Skytran, right here in silicon valley that has already created a bullet beater using Maglev technology.
This technology is not years away like Musk’s Hyperloop, at this very moment Skytran is building a system of Personal Rapid Transit in Israel where the company believes the future of all innovation will be developed drawing people from around the world to work and learn about Skytran.
Israel’s bureaucracy “is not as onerous as in some other Western countries. It’s a ‘two-telephone call’ country. Once the government knows about something and is interested in it, they find a way to clear the bureaucratic hurdles, and that is what is going on with us,” Jerry Sanders, CEO of Skytran
Although geared to decreasing vehicle use in large urban settings there is no reason why Skytran cannot be built at a fraction of the cost of HSR connecting L.A. to San Francisco transporting the same number of people that HSR would in the same period of time or less.
Unlike HSR, Skytran integrates into the urban landscape without disrupting traffic flow infrastructure or current land uses; including private properties. This ability to unobtrusively blend into the existing environment will reduce the push-back that HSR is currently receiving from a number of communities.
High Speed Rail Cost:
$68 billion for 800 miles of track equals $85 million per mile.
$7.2 billion for 800 miles of track at a cost of $9 million per mile. (Approximately $5 billion for the 380 miles from S.F to L.A. track.)
It is 380 miles from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Some estimates place the High Speed Rail traveling up to 200 mph transporting passengers to S.F. from L.A. in 3 hours or less.
That is if it is an express train with no stops.
What happens if you want to go to someplace like San Mateo from L.A. and not S.F.? You will fly by your destination to S.F. where it will take you another hour to back track to where you truly want to be. This dilemma does not exist with Skytran as Skytran’s individualized pods take passengers directly to where they want go. At 150 mph Skytran does not equal the top end speed of HSR however overall travel time will be much shorter using Skytran than HSR as every ride is an express ride.
The question is, why won’t the politicians scrap the current model of High Speed Rail for one that will require less energy per mile traveled enabling more people to access the system while removing more cars from the roadways and thereby obtain more goals than the current HSR system at a fraction of the cost?
$7.2 billion is less than the $9.95 billion in bonds the people approved of and only 18% of the $40 billion cost sold to the people in 2008.
What would be the people’s approval rating of Governor Jerry Brown and our state representatives if they were to terminate the current technology of High Speed Rail and replace it with Skytran? Instead of building tracks out in the middle of nowhere our elected officials could circle the greater San Francisco Bay Area all they way to Sacramento with Skytran as well as through-out the Los Angeles Basin down to San Diego prior to building anything connecting northern and southern California.
This would cost $10 billion for 1,111 miles of track which would also be the quickest and most cost effective method of reducing traffic congestion as well as green house gas emissions. During this first phase Brown and his colleagues in Sacramento could then allocate up to $1 billion dollars to Elon Musk’s Hyperloop technology to prove its viability. Should Mr. Musk’s Hyperloop technology be validated then Brown and our officials at the Capital would allocate up to $9 billion dollars to construct the Hyperloop system connecting L.A. and S.F.
If the Hyperloop cannot produce what Mr. Musk claims it can then the $9 billion would go to connecting L.A. to S.F. with Skytran during phase two of California’s High Speed Rail project.
For $20 billion, less than half of the original cost of the very limited High Speed Rail project the people of California could have Rapid Personal Transit in the major metropolitan areas and High Speed Rail connecting Southern and Northern California.
Is there any logical reason why Governor Brown and the State legislators do not want to save the California people $20 billion to $48 billion when it is within their ability and authority to do so?