Controlling the Colorado Hyperloop Environment

Color drawing of Front Range Hyperloop
Color drawing of Front Range Hyperloop
Front Range Hyperloop

The title of this post is Controlling the Colorado Hyperloop Environment.

Yes, controlling is a strong word. Does it mean physically or politically?

Also, environment means many different things. Is that social, or weather related?For a large transportation project that stretches miles over the horizon, the role of the environment (weather and politically) is critical to system stability.

Lets focus on Mother Nature. The hyperloop will be covered in a weather/waterproof cement like tube. These will be the main controlling factor to the environment inside the tubes. Other innovative systems are also trying to control the environment. Take for example a article on NextCity.org about MIT’s CityFarm.

Indoor farming sounds, at first blush, like a second-rate fallback option; perhaps it’s necessary, but it means forgoing the natural abundance of the elements outdoors. When Harper describes it, though, those elements sound more like uncooperative troublemakers. Reviewing the advantages he enjoys compared with his hypothetical counterpart out in the fields, Harper says, “The reason he uses chemicals, pesticides and genetic modification is that he can’t control anything. It’s windy, there’s not enough minerals. He tries to take that plant and any way he can make that plant a super plant to survive in an adverse world.” By contrast, “I’m trying to create a perfect world. So the plant can do what it’s good at, which is grow.”

“Indoors you can control everything. Outdoors you can control nothing. What’s better? Duh.” 

So a closed environment is good idea especially if you are trying to do certain, specific things.

Now lets talk about the political and city environment. When the hyperloop is built it will lead to a shift in citizens expectations. Controlling such an environment will not be easy, nor should it be controlled. Another NextCity.org article had some good thoughts on how the change in the potical environment of cities due to a Hyperloop:

2. Urban life is bending toward on-demand. Hyperloop, as Musk sees it, will be made up of pods, or capsules, capable of holding up to 28 passengers each. There will be no need to wait — the vision is for pods to leave every two minutes on average, and every 30 seconds during rush hour. 

That echoes what we’ve seen with services like Uber or Airbnb, when resources are broken up into discrete bits, whether they’re unused cars or excess rooms, and distributed when and where consumers want them. No more of the “pulsed situation” that we see at airports, Musk writes, where scheduling generates lines. The Hyperloop will, with its regularity, seem like a steady flow. One possibility is that, in turn, it spurs even more on-demand transportation options. If you spend just 30 minutes getting from San Francisco to Los Angeles, you’re unlikely to want to spend another half-hour on a taxi line once you get there.

3. Tapping existing infrastructure makes the impossible possible. It’s not the pods that cost real money, Musk argues. Nor is it the motors to power them. It’s the tubes themselves. In the case of California, though, it’s possible to build the path on pylons above ground, which means “you can almost entirely avoid the need to buy land by following alongside the mostly very straight California Interstate 5 highway, with only minor deviations when the highway makes a sharp turn.”

The use of public resources can drive down costs, something Google has found as it has sought to build out Internet access with its Fiber project. Where it’s necessary to build on private land, Musk writes, the advantage of building above ground is that Hyperloop would inconvenience landowners no more than having a telephone pole on their property.

4. Affordability is the key to sustainability. Musk made his first real fortune on PayPal, a peer-to-peer banking system that made it possible for even the smallest of businesses to collect and distribute funds — and which powered the explosive growth of eBay. Now with his Tesla Motors, Musk says that his ultimate goal includes producing “affordably priced family cars” to “help expedite the move from a mine-and-burn hydrocarbon economy towards a solar electric economy.” It’s clear that Musk’s ambition is for Hyperloop to be an leap ahead, environmentally, as compared to existing modes of transportation. For that to happen, he’ll need to pull cars off the road and planes out of the air, which means keeping ticket prices low.

5. Open source is the way ahead. Hyperloop is an “open source transportation concept,” Musk says, “similar to Linux,” wherein the plans are released absent the copyright we might expect to see. Musk has invited feedback, saying “iteration of the design by various individuals and groups can help bring Hyperloop from an idea to a reality.” In particular, he says, he could use help designing the control mechanism for pods and the stations themselves.

In their new book, The Metropolitan Revolution, the Brookings Institution’s Bruce Katz and Jennifer Bradley describe federal and state governments as “a collection of hardened silos” where transportation departments design transportation-centric solutions. Cities, meanwhile, are “organic communities” where shared responsibilities can come from anywhere. It helps if plans and ideas, then, aren’t held in a proprietary grasp. It’s an openness to openness that is, in fact, key to the seriousness with which commentators have treated Musk’s role as a transportation entrepreneur. After all, he’s just a man with an idea.

So it seems like city farms and hyperloops have more in common to each other than just “controlled” environments.

I-25 Federal Upgrades vs Federal Experiment for Colorado Hyperloop

I-25 map in the United States

 

If I-25 is so busy, why isn’t there other transportation systems in place to relieve the volume?

The Colorado politician that now seek Federal funding for upgrades for I-25 once said that the Federal Department of Transportation isn’t needed.  Should we have confidence in our politicians to think a Colorado Hyperloop a priority?

The latest news on the situation, by Erin Udell of the Coloradoan, notes that communities along Northern I-25 section don’t even want the “upgrades.”

“Those communities worked tirelessly to make I-25 a priority and successfully got additional lane capacity, which they planned for, raised money for, worked hard for,” said Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway. “Now, you have CDOT coming in saying, ‘Well, we need to add lane capacity up to Highway 14, and we’re going to toll it.’ ”

“That’s where the disagreement comes in. We’re saying it’s unfair,” Conway said. “These communities … they deferred projects, they prioritized I-25 and were reaping the benefits of years of planning when CDOT came in and said they want to take existing free lanes that have been bought and paid for by taxpayers, and they want to toll them.”

CDOT does not have the funds,  so the communities along I-25 are planning independently.

The communities involved in the coalition — Windsor, Mead, Berthoud and Johnstown — all line the north I-25 corridor and, according to Conway, must give CDOT their approval before it can move forward with any possible changes. Other communities that line the corridor include Erie, Fort Collins, Loveland, Dacono and Frederick.

“There isn’t a north-south split. It’s quite the contrary,” Conway said. “Fort Collins and Loveland have been very open-minded about discussing how we can deal with this issue.”

“I think, with the collaborative effort that’s been shown, we can come up with some creative solutions – some that are destined for success.”

The Colorado Hyperloop could possibly be a creative solution for the entire state!

The fight’in Greeley Tribune ends this post with their article: Gardner will try to secure federal funding for Interstate 25 improvements

He said he agrees with concerns raised by the North I-25 Coalition at a meeting this week and pledged to initiate discussions in Washington, D.C., regarding including I-25 in the transportation bill.

“At a time when the I-25 corridor has seen its traffic population grow by more than 425 percent over the past 20 years, it is now more important than ever to ensure that northern Colorado has the infrastructure to support our evolving economy,” Gardner said in a news release. “Local officials have estimated that the outdated interstate system has cost the area $56 million, proof that it is far past time to address this issue.”

Says the man who wanted to disband the Department of Transportation.

Will the cost in upgrading I-25 be more than the cost in building a experimental Colorado Hyperloop that follows the same route?

Perhaps we all could look into the future and see a need for a I-25 mirroring Colorado Hyperloop.

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.

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

 

The Future Is Already Under Construction

The title of this post, The Future Is Already Under Construction, came from an exhibition called Rights of Way: Mobility and the City at the BSA Space Center for Architecture and Design.

The Future Is Under Construction photo
The Future Is Under Construction

I think it sums up the Colorado Hyperloop pretty well. I will be going back there to take more notes. Below is a description of the exhibition from:

 

Exhibition Opening:
December 5, 2013

Exhibition Closing:
May 26, 2014

Rights of Way: Mobility and the City is a global exploration of mobility and transportation in cities. The exhibition features dozens of examples of visionary urban thinking, showing how the city is shaped by the ways people move through it.

Curated by James Graham and Meredith Miller of MILLIGRAM-office, Rights of Waydemonstrates that our urban environment is the result of constant negotiation among designers, policy makers, the private sector, and individual residents. By claiming that access to mobility is access to opportunity and that everyone has his or her own “right of way,” this future-oriented show reveals how those public rights are always at play in the shared commons of the city. The exhibition examines large-scale urban futures, contemporary examples of innovative design for transit and public space, historical attempts at remaking the city, and individual adaptations of mobility systems. Rights of Way also includes three projects from the 2012 Audi Urban Future Award, focusing on three megaregions: the Pearl River Delta in China’s Guangdong Province; São Paulo; and the Boston–Washington, DC (BosWash) Corridor. Displays include renderings, drawings, photography, videos, infographics, and a media library that allows visitors to delve further into the issues raised by the exhibition content.