Colorado Hyperloop vs Upgrading Regular Rail

Wouldnt it be nice if the existing rail routes were just upgraded to higher speeds? Yes? How about we look at one route that might seem important: Chicago to Los Angeles on the Southwest Chief.

The New York Times’ Dan Frosch reports Small Towns in Southwest Fear Loss of Cherished Train Line http://nyti.ms/1fuwWW2 :

Amtrak, which has operated the Southwest Chief since 1971, has asked Colorado, Kansas and New Mexico to each pitch in $40 million over 20 years to help pay for track upgrades and maintenance it says are needed to keep the route viable. But some state officials are balking, saying that Amtrak, which draws financial support from the federal government, should cover the costs itself.

The Southwest Chief, which runs in both directions once a day, needs to reach 79 miles per hour wherever possible to make its scheduled stops on time, Mr. Magliari said. If old track is not replaced soon, he added, the train will have to travel at slower speeds for longer distances.

Colorado could lose stops in the towns of Trinidad, Lamar and La Junta, each of which has a population of less than 9,000. These towns, like their New Mexico counterparts, have seen fortunes fade over the years, as coal mines, a military base and a bus factory all closed.

Leroy Garcia, a Democratic state representative from Colorado, recently introduced legislation to preserve the train route and add a stop in the city of Pueblo. Under his proposal, which has drawn bipartisan support from Colorado lawmakers, a commission would be created to find funding and figure out the cost for an additional stop.

“By adding the stop to Pueblo, you’d now have access to 165,000 more people in the county,” he said. “We have heard over and over that rural and southern Colorado is really struggling for jobs — this could serve as a hub for growth.”

Amtrak said that ridership on the route has held mostly steady over the years, at more than 250,000 passengers a year for the last decade.

The Southwest Chief is one of its top financial performers for long-distance trains, the company said, and keeping the route would help boost the economy of the region.

What a quandry.  A front range hyperloop from Cheyenne to Pueblo would contribute so much more for the state and region than this line. Only thing to do is just raise more (Congressional) awareness.

Colorado’s “retro-futuristic” Hyperloop

Hopefully the Hyperloop will not be based on Londons plans in the video above but something more reasonable below…

Sure the Hyperloop looks like a subway that is above ground. But what sets it aside from the retro subway is the “futuristic” speed and high quality efficacy.

In order for the hyperloop to be built, we need to look around the world at other transport systems. If we will find a piece of one system that sets it apart from others, in a good way, those elements should be included in the hyperloop.  The Colorado Hyperloop should be a “transport enthusiast’s paradise”.

The “retro-futuristic” comes from an article from the Guardian this morning:

Cities in motion: transport is as key to urban character as buildings or accents

Kicking off a new series on how people move through cities, we look at how trains and traffic reveal the way a place sees itself

The author of the article, Colin Marshall, is an expert in cities and culture. Strangely, he has not written a blog post on the hyperloop. Yet, he nails what has already been built:

 “American cities don’t usually represent themselves with elements of transit – apart, that is, from the classic yellow school bus.

Regular American city buses, marginalised due to the supposed poverty of their riders, often end up providing an even more inconvenient, unpleasant riding experience than its school buses. Gearing public transport towards the bottom of the socioeconomic scale, especially a bottom seen as isolated from or in conflict with the majority, impedes the popularity and thus implementation of improvements. Dedicating a bus lane in Los Angeles has proven a task comparable to the labours of Hercules.

The bicycle in America has only just begun to escape similar associations. Most designations of bike-friendliness have gone not to proper cities but college towns: Davis, Boulder, Long Beach, Iowa City – places that, while pleasant enough, command little national, let alone international import. Modest Portland, Oregon, the US city in which I most enjoy cycling, feels like a Tokyo or Seoul by comparison. Yet despite its reputation as a paradise for alternative transport, I always notice suspiciously few normally clothed riders on the road there with me. Ride a bike in any of America’s supposedly top cities to do so, and you come to know the still-strong American genius for branding, as opposed to the faltering American genius for execution. When Los Angeles laid down its first high-profile cycle lane, the rain washed it mostly away within months.

Even as a city’s forms of transport empower us, they limit us, reducing us to a narrow set of obsessions: New Yorkers’ compulsive but futile questions about when the train will come; Angelenos’ sad, Sisyphean quest for free parking; Copenhageners’ budgeting for their next bicycle when their current one inevitably gets stolen; Londoners’ ceaseless insistence that the whole of their infrastructure lies more or less in ruins. Yet they can also make manifest the human ingenuity that makes such improbable accretions as cities work in the first place.

This goes a fair way to explaining the seething frustrations of many American cities, composed in large part of poor people in cars, made ever poorer by their associated costs. Peñalosa has also spoken of our “need to walk, just as birds need to fly”, suggesting a city’s need for “pedestrian infrastructure shows respect for human dignity”. And indeed, you can learn as much about a city from observing how people walk in it as how they ride, cycle, and drive. I did so in London, whose citizens cross the street any time they please, regardless of what the traffic signal says. Me and my Los Angeles compatriots remain, alas, too cowed by the pricey threat of jaywalking tickets, the monstrously aggressive (and in my experience mythical) spectre of the “LA driver”, and the sheer width of the roads to do the same.

We can learn from London, I told myself, and the thought cheered me. It had to, as I’d wound up stranded by the tube strike, an illuminating transport phenomenon which had me revising my opinions about the city all over again. We can learn from London, yes, but let’s not learn everything from it.

Luckily it is people like Mr Marshall that can find the essence in the human reaction to transport. He and others will hopefully provide insight as to how the hyperloop is developed and built.

New Space Tax Breaks Model for Hyperloop

The Colorado Business Journal’s Ed Sealover reports that aerospace industries are pushing for more tax breaks. The aptly titled “Colorado spacecraft tax break gets stratospheric support” reports a bit of the lobbying effort by a couple of companies mainly spearheaded by the “Metro Denver Economic Development Corp”. Ed writes:

California, Florida and Texas all have similar tax breaks to HB 1178, sponsored by House Speaker Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver and House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso, R-Loveland — and are ahead of Colorado in their ability to store satellites and attract aerospace companies, several people testified.

…legislators spanning the spectrum from liberal to conservative all got behind the attempt to boost an industry that has been targeted by state and Denver-area leaders.

However, The Denver Post’s Kristen Painter reports on a very interesting political landscape:

The national aerospace landscape is shifting dramatically as a result of a number of factors, including federal budget constraints, which the state’s aerospace cluster has relied on heavily.

Colorado — which has long rested on its educated workforce, academic and research institutions, high quality of life and relatively low cost of living — is at risk of losing its place of aerospace dominance.

The state punches above its weight, employing the third-most aerospace-related workers, behind California and Florida but ahead of Texas and Arizona. Colorado is the only top-five aerospace state without a sales-and-use-tax exemption.

Kristen brings up a very important point. The Aerospace industry is already heavily subsidized and historically funded via federal government. Lean startups like the Colorado Hyperloop can’t act like a Space corp because there isn’t enough money. Thats why SpaceX has to radically cut R&D and launch costs just to even be in business. The hyperloop will need to follow the lean SpaceX model.

So with a proven space industry, and competition from other states that are incentivising New Space, Colorado seemingly needs to get in the “game.”

The bill includes the tax exemption for anything “QUALIFIED PROPERTY FOR USE IN SPACE FLIGHT”… now imagine if everything that says “Space” below could be changed for “Hyperloop”. I wonder if it could still get support:

(I) A SPACE VEHICLE AND ANY COMPONENT THEREOF;
13 (II) TANGIBLE PERSONAL PROPERTY TO BE PLACED OR USED
14 ABOARD A SPACE VEHICLE, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER SUCH PERSONAL
15 PROPERTY IS TO BE ULTIMATELY RETURNED TO THE STATE FOR
16 SUBSEQUENT USE, STORAGE, OR OTHER CONSUMPTION; AND
17 (III) FUEL OF A QUALITY THAT IS NOT ADAPTABLE FOR USE IN AN
18 ORDINARY MOTOR VEHICLE AND THAT IS PRODUCED, SOLD, AND USED
19 EXCLUSIVELY FOR SPACE FLIGHT.
20 (b) “SPACE FLIGHT” MEANS ANY FLIGHT DESIGNED FOR
21 SUBORBITAL, ORBITAL, OR INTERPLANETARY TRAVEL BY A SPACE VEHICLE.
22 (c) “SPACE VEHICLE” MEANS ANY TANGIBLE PERSONAL PROPERTY
23 THAT HAS SPACE FLIGHT CAPABILITY AND IS INTENDED FOR SPACE FLIGHT
24 AND INCLUDES, BUT IS NOT LIMITED TO, AN ORBITAL SPACE FACILITY,
25 SPACE PROPULSION SYSTEM, SATELLITE, OR SPACE STATION OF ANY KIND.
26 (3) THE TAX EXEMPTION ESTABLISHED BY THIS SECTION MAY NOT
27 BE DENIED TO A TAXPAYER BECAUSE OF A FAILURE, POSTPONEMENT,
-3- HB14-11781 DESTRUCTION, OR CANCELLATION OF A LAUNCH OF A SPACE VEHICLE.

Wouldnt it be nice to have the lobbying firepower of something like this for the hyperloop?

The Hyperloop lobbying strategy should probably model off of this effort.

Also, it’s kinda ironic that the bill has the following:

SECTION 4. Safety clause. The general assembly hereby finds,
4 determines, and declares that this act is necessary for the immediate
5 preservation of the public peace, health, and safety.

Spaceflight is a very dangerous! Surely the Hyperloop is necessary for the preservation of public peace, health and safety too!

Financing and PR Woes for CDOT

The biggest factors that the Colorado Hyperloop will have to deal with is public relations and financing. Nothing can happen without support of both interests.

So it is interesting to see what happened this week  with CDOT in on two of the busiest roads, I-70 and US 36. It goes from bad to worse for CDOT.

First, CDOT blames nightmare I-70 traffic on Colo. drivers on 9News. Bad weather, insane amounts of cars driving eastward and crazy confusing plans for avoiding the next bottleneck  created hours of waiting.

Second, CDOT: Better road could have been taken on U.S. 36 contract on The Denver Post.

Third, Lawmakers to grill CDOT on US 36 plan on 9News.

Fourth, Surprising CDOT, Lawmakers Push Back Over U.S. 36 Public-Private Partnership on KNUC.

Fifth,  Harsh words for CDOT at public meeting on 50-year U.S. 36 contract on the Daily Camera.

Sixth, well maybe there will be new push for building the Hyperloop? haha, woe unto me…

 

Hyperloop needs more publicity, LA subway/light rail Map in the Near Future

LA futuristic subway map

Saw the below Gizmodo article based on the the movie Her. The image above is from the blog post, and is a  subway map of their current system plus futuristic additions. However, it lacks a hyperloop. There needs to be more of a push for films, anime and other sci-fi mediums to put hyperloop designs into their media.  The public needs to think that hyperloops are the future…

Keep in mind this is a fictional work of design, created for a film, so it’s not geographically accurate, but you have to appreciate the vision and wit in this map that most of us have been fantasizing about for decades. The system ranges from the Angeles National Forest to Malibu over five lines, with stops at some familiar places and some completely invented (I especially love the stations named “Nail Spot” and “Hair Salon”). A new neighborhood, Melrose Center, which I would guess to be around modern-day Koreatown, has become a major hub, bigger than present-day downtown. And for those who bemoan our current transit options at the airport: The train not only goes to LAX now, but it makes THREE stops!

Most notable are the paths of some of the lines. While the gold/teal path almost traces the real-life Gold and Expo Lines (which will bring light rail to Santa Monica in 2015), others seem to mimic current freeway routes. There’s a junction named 101 Freeway Axis, and the orange line running over the Sepulveda Pass looks like it basically traces the 405 Freeway. Who knows? With this system up and running, we might be constructing the light rail lines over abandoned freeways in the future.

McFetridge would especially like to call attention to the fictional transit authority named Los Angeles Metro Light Rail (LAMLR) and the logo he designed for it: “From the Summit to the Sea.” Not a bad tagline to aspire to, L.A.

Gizmodo and Reddit

 

Energy Generating Hyperloop

If the design of the hyperloop tubes are stacked vertically vs side by side horizontally (double barrelled) it will alter the amount of area that solar PV can be installed on the top. The hyperloop will have a significant amount of space as it snakes the 317 miles along the front range.

calculating area of hyperloop solar pannels

 

Since there are so many solar companies in Colorado, it would be nice to give contracts to all of them since the work is fairly straightforward… but with utilities like Excel, and maybe Boulder’s own energy utility, it might be difficult to cut deals with these  entities.

Besides, solar is one component to the Hyperloop energy platform. What if there were Ultra-high-voltage electricity transmission along the backbone as well. This would enable power to flow efficiently for the whole length of the hyperloop and might provide redundancy if say in the north sections were snowed under, while it was sunny south of Denver.

These high efficiency lines could also bring sustainable energy from the north east of colorado (like wind energy) to the areas where it is need.

Kazakhstan will have Trains, Colorado will have Hyperloops

In deciding how to fund the construction of the hyperloop (and assuming that it can generate a profit after being built) we look to other models of economic growth, this time with Big Oil and Gas dollars. While Colorado has extensive Oil and Gas reserves, the country of Kazakhstan has much more. Colorado, with its currently slim majority pro-fracking population http://www.bizjournals.com/denver/blog/earth_to_power/2013/11/more-than-half-of-colorado-voters.html will need to decide how revenue from the private companies can fed back into state taxes. “The Quinnipiac poll, which was primarily focused on next year’s Colorado gubernatorial election, also asked: “If a candidate for governor supports fracking, does that make you more likely to vote for that candidate, less likely, or doesn’t it make a difference?”” Anyway, beyond the short term politics, Kazakhstan is thinking ahead and so should we.

The article I read http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/21/business/international/kazakhstans-bet-on-rail.html?_r=0 gives a very interesting take that the government in Astana is basically funneling all the oil revenue into creating a rail road state owned mega industry.

“The rail business, Kazakhstan Temir Zholy, better known by its initials as K.T.Z., reached a deal this summer to build a $100 million freight and logistics center on the coast of China at Lianyungang port, roughly halfway between Beijing and Shanghai. The goal is to bring goods in and out of Central Asia through a combination of rail and sea freight, and help the region diversify its exports beyond an overwhelming dependence on Russia that has lasted for more than two decades after the demise of the Soviet Union.

The railroad has opened a second line from Kazakhstan to China that runs through a southern mountain pass that is less prone to the high winds and blizzards that bedevil a Soviet-era border crossing farther north built under the Soviet leaders Khrushchev and Brezhnev. The company is frenetically building new rail lines within Kazakhstan to distribute goods, too, and has more than quadrupled its annual investment in the last four years, to $3.1 billion this year.

Kazakhstan faces a difficult challenge in trying to spend its oil wealth in ways that will create prosperity beyond the city limits of the capital, Astana, and there is no guarantee that its emphasis on the rail industry will work.”

What if Colorado voters decided to funneled Oil/Gas taxes into a Colorado Hyperloop industry? The front range will be a key backbone of trade from Wyoming to New Mexico. I have no evidence, but I believe the investment in hyperloop technology will spur other industries and will have a larger return than even the Oil and Gas industries of Colorado.

Hyperloop is the Tubes of the Internet Age

What if we didn’t have broadband, high speed rail (still do not have it in the USA) or airplanes?

Pushing for change is hard. Luckily, when the head of a federal depart, such as the FCC, wants change, things can happen pretty fast. However, they would also be in charge of regulating, and if that person(s) do not know what the hyperloop does or how it works, it will be bad.

I was happy to read this from the NYTimes article.

” “History has shown that new networks catalyze innovation, investment, ideas and ingenuity. Their spillover effects can transform society — think of the creation of industrial organizations and the standardized time zones that followed in the wake of the railroad and telegraph.”” http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/20/business/media/fcc-chairman-calls-for-transforming-the-technology-used-by-phone-systems.html?hpw&rref=technology&_r=0

The Hyperloop is the broadband of the internet speed development. Take for example this sentence from the head of the FCC:

“The transition to broadband and I.P. services that has already begun is driven by consumers who are moving to the Internet and choosing to connect in ways not imagined just a decade ago.”

…and can be altered to…

““The transition to broadband high speed rail and I.P. airplane services that has already begun is driven by consumers who are moving to the Internet hyperloop and choosing to connect live in ways not imagined just a decade ago.”

So what if we transitioned to Hyperloop technology? What if the government in power were to push for the hyperloop?

Lets just hope we don’t get the same guy in government that thought the Internet was “a series of tubes.” Because that’s the Hyperloop.

A Colorado Hyperloop

Welcome to Colorado Hyperloop blog.Hope this will be a place where people can share ideas and come together to implement a hyperloop system for Colorado.

Lots of news yesterday of Musk’s announcement as well as other news articles from all over discussing the roots of the hyperloop system starting in Colorado with et3.com .

http://blogs.westword.com/latestword/2013/08/hyperloop_daryl_oster_elon_musk_colorado.php

Probably a 300 mph line between Boulder and Denver @wind4me. You do the RTD equation.
— ET3 Transport (@ET3Transport) August 12, 2013