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.

One Reply to “Colorado’s “retro-futuristic” Hyperloop”

  1. Unlike Toll Highways, Ports, Airports….Railroads evolved as closed vertically controlled operations by necessity. It just wasn’t safe for multiple users to operate trains on the same tracks, especially with 19th century communications technology.

    Hyperloop is usually treated as a sort of railroad in a tube. It’s not. It really is a new mode of transport.

    Hyperloop doesn’t have to have the 19th century Railroad Industry limits of being a closed system. It can operate more like a Turnpike, Port or Airport system being open to a large range of different vehicle types and ownerships. That will also broaden it’s appeal.

    A Toll Road Style Hyperloop doesn’t need a central committee or auteur architect deciding every detail of passenger Hyperloop pods, cargo pods or stations. These things can be designed and built for different users as they wish.

    This is after all a 21st century system infused with machine intelligence. Tolls can be very flexible and complex creating a market that maximizes system use and user utility. Pods will be completely controlled by the system but they need not be owned by the system or beyond some common specifics, designed by the system.

    Like a Toll Road, this sort of Hyperloop doesn’t have “Terminals ” like a railroad would. It has instead connections to a local tube system like toll expressways simply feed into local roads. Local tubes are normal air pressure tubes that connect to various local users. Probably passenger pods connect at existing local transport hubs like airports, train or bus stations, or high density destinations like universities, shopping centers or downtowns. Cargo pods at intermodal hubs for UPS, FedEx, USPS etc.

    The connection between local tubes and the low pressure Hyperloop is a closed completely automated access point where pods queue up and are injected by the system or exit it into local tubes. There is no public access there. It’s just hidden machinery since pods have no windows. It’s more like a switching yard than a terminal in railroad terms.

    There’s no reason pods for this system can’t fill specialized needs. Luxo Pods with whatever amenities and design desired or Pods designed to provide essentially free transport in exchange for watching ads or being in a focus group. Passengers or cargo willing to accept lower priority in an access queue would have very lower marginal costs so very low tolls. Pods use little energy or labor per trip so much of the toll would be for priority access. The advantage of an open system is that it doesn’t have to decide the details for end users.

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