Will the U.S. Ever Get the Hyperloop? Official Says 'Maybe Not'
The hyped up Hyperloop One system made waves when Elon Musk announced the plan in 2013. However, only a handful of countries like the UAE has taken steps to truly lay the foundation needed for the Hyperloop One.
[Image Source: Hyperloop One]
And according to U.S. Secretary of Transportation, the U.S. will probably watch other countries test Musk's innovative system before it ever does. In an interview with Recode's Johana Bhuiyan, transportation secretary Anthony Foxx said Congress often prioritizes safety over innovation.
"Getting the service is different than generating the ideas and generating the intellectual capital. We in the U.S., one of our greatest virtues and one of the biggest challenges for us, is that when new transportation technology is introduced, something like Hyperloop, [they] say ‘We want to be first.’ A lot of the time, we say, ‘We want to be safest.’ And I think that’s a good thing for us."
Foxx getting sworn into office, 2013 [Image Source: Dept. of Transportation]
However, Foxx noted that the rail system in the U.S. needed work. He said if he had more time in office, that's where his efforts would lie. Foxx noted the Hyperloop One system wouldn't fit current U.S. regulations. The reason autonomous cars managed to get federal guidelines in reasonable time, Foxx said, is because they're similar enough to traditional vehicles for the DoT to start creating legislation. But Hyperloop One, with its 700 mph speeds and uniquely designed system, might be too far removed from typical trains to hold it to preexisting railway regulations.
This isn't to say that the Hyperloop would never come to the U.S., but as Foxx noted the (sometimes glacial) pace of Congressional action could significantly delay Hyperloop One's arrival to the U.S. However, President-Elect Donald Trump could push it through. He named Musk to his advisory board in December, and many have hoped this means Trump would take a progressive stance on technology and innovation (at the very least).
Regardless of presidential policies, Foxx's successor will still have quite a bit on her plate. Donald Trump and his advisory team tapped former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao as their pick for Secretary of Transportation. She'll have control over the roughly $70 billion transportation budget to maintain and improve current transit systems. She'll also balance that with the constant innovations in self-driving vehicles and innovative rail projects like Hyperloop One. Chao, the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, served as deputy secretary of transportation under George W. Bush. Of Trump's cabinet appointments, Chao seems the least controversial to both sides of the party line. Incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York praised Chao for her long history of service.
While the US continues to debate the merits and potential hazards of fresh transit infrastructure, several other countries have jumped on board. Hyperloop One and Indian engineers crafted five unique routes for a line spanning from Dehli to Mumbai. This would allow passengers to travel the 1,200 km in less than an hour.
You can listen to the full interview with Foxx below: