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.

HS2 in the UK and the Public Debate

Certainly the game is afoot in the UK. There is so much debate happening about the High Speed Rail going from London up to the north.

In order to get more information go to http://www.theguardian.com/uk/hs2 and read some of the recient articles. This is such a huge topic that its hard to overstate the role the project will play in society and political implementation for generations.

While HS2 is no Hyperloop, the costs of the project are beyond belief.

Certainly there could be a better way to make high speed transport cheaper?

The UK is certainly capable of pushing a large transport project to be built. The approach to upgrading rail is nothing new and but this time it has sparked a nerve in the wider society by the very Government that has pushed for austitarity. The polar opposite political ambitions are dividing the society and the parties.

If a political party in Colorado introduced a large scale project to upgrade the existing rail lines from Pueblo all the way north to Cheyenne Wyoming, so passengers could be swiftly transported, what would the reaction be?

Are any political party in Colorado capable of making such a daring proposal? What if two parties worked together? Could a Hyperloop project be supported even with the backing of two parties?

The core of the Colorado Hyperloop is really a test of political will. Do Colorado Citizens have enough political will to push their parties to develop innovative ideas?

One indication might be from the defeat of Amendment 66 http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_24479256/amendment-66-defeat-capped-year-challenges-gov-hickenlooper.

Even the Governor with both House and Senate could not get extra monies from the very citizens who elected them to improve public schools. Would the citizens of Colorado approve of state spending monies on developing the Hyperloop even if only a hundred jobs would be created? We all know the hyperloop construction will be automated, as will its operation. The Hyperloop will not need people for its maintenance nor it will it depend on pensioned staff or expensive staff.

Could the Hyperloop be brought to design and construction and operated completely with democratic support from every group (including NIMBY’s)? This would require a revolution in projects.

I am not sure if there is current models that could make such a project happen.

That is where UK public discourse comes in. Last week a well known British person told a news presenter why he did not vote in elections: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/nov/07/russell-brand-row-nick-clegg-jeremy-paxman

The main reason is that the political parties are not representing the people. Now I am reminded of a quote: “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.” – Winston Churchill

The Colorado Hyperloop needs to not only be built, but getting the political will will also have to done completely with innovative techniques. Nothing in the Hyperloop project will be like any other transport project.