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July 20, 2017

Elon Musk: NY-Philly-DC-Baltimore Hyperloop approved by government

Tesla, Inc. founder says transit system will span NY-D.C. in 29 minutes.

Transportation Hyperloop
07212017_Hyperloop_2_concept. Source/Hyperloop/SpaceX

Hyperloop passenger transport capsule conceptual design rendering.

Tesla, Inc. and SpaceX founder Elon Musk dropped a bombshell announcement Thursday morning, tweeting that he has received "verbal government approval" to construct a Hyperloop transit system that would connect New York City, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and Baltimore at incredible speeds.

Musk said The Boring Company, an infrastructure startup he launched late last year, will carry out construction of the underground tunnel. The entire route from New York City to D.C., he claimed, will take just 29 minutes.

Further details were not immediately released and it was not clear which government authority, or several, granted approval for the project.

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Representatives from all four cities said Musk's tweet was the first they had heard of plans for Hyperloop transit along the Northeast Corridor. In subsequent tweets, Musk took steps to qualify his astounding declaration. 

First introduced in a 2013 open source white paper, Hyperloop technology is described by some as a pneumatic transport system (PTS), relying on electromagnetic rather than active propulsion. Musk himself has explained Hyperloop as a combination of the Concorde, an air hockey table and a railgun.

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An overview of the technology at Architectural Digest says Hyperloop pods will reach blazing speeds of up to 750 mph, whisking passengers from city to city through near frictionless vacuum tubes. Musk envisions Hyperloop as a future "fifth mode" of transportation alongside planes, boats, trains and cars.

In another tweet, Musk said the proposed East Coast Hyperloop would move from "city center to city center," with multiple entry and exit points at each location.

The Boring Company has already developed plans to dig tunnels that would address the notorious congestion of the greater Los Angeles area. Musk has also signaled his intent to bring Hyperloop transit to Texas and Illinois

Several other companies, led by Los Angeles-based Hyperloop One and competitor Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, have been actively prototyping and researching the commercial viability of the transit system. Proponents say Hyperloops will not only be more efficient, but less costly to construct and run than high-speed rail systems. 

How much will it cost to ride? Musk once boldly proclaimed $20—and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies CEO Dirk Ahlborn recently projected $30 from L.A. to San Francisco—but some analysts have their doubts on several fronts.   

Photos of Hyperloop One's DevLoop, a 500-meter test track built in the Nevada desert, were previewed back in March as a sign that the technology is progressing past the point of speculative science fiction. Successful results from the company's first full systems test, conducted in Nevada on May 12, were revealed earlier this month along with a prototype of its pod. 

"Hyperloop One will move people and things faster than at any other time in the world," said Shervin Pishevar, co-founder and executive chairman of Hyperloop One. "With Hyperloop One, the world will be cleaner, safer and faster. It's going to make the world a lot more efficient and will impact the ways our cities work, where we live and where we work. We'll be able to move between cities as if cities themselves are metro stops."