Missourians may see a day that they can travel from St. Louis to Kansas City in 30 minutes.
That’s the vision for Virgin Hyperloop One.
The Los Angeles-based transportation technology company brought one of its pods to the University of Missouri in Columbia Oct. 3-4 as part of a tour to showcase the technology, and company representatives discussed the technology they have been working on over the last five years.
“Not only are we faster, but we are moving people in a different way,” said Kristen Hammer, business development manager for Virgin Hyperloop One.
The company is developing a transportation system that uses electricity to propel pods through low-pressure tubes that are about the size of subway tunnels. The pods float above a track using magnetic levitation, which reduces drag and enables them to move faster while consuming less energy, according to the company.
Pods have reached speeds of 240 miles per hour on a test track that’s about 500 yards long, according to Hyperloop One, but the company projects its system would be able to propel cargo and passengers at up to 670 miles per hour over longer distances.
Hammer said the earliest route would be operational by the end of the next decade. A route connecting St. Louis and Kansas City, with a stop in Columbia, is one of seven the company is considering.
The Missouri Hyperloop Coalition, a private-public partnership, has formed in hopes of helping the state attract Hyperloop One’s first route. Black & Veatch, an engineering firm based in the Kansas City area, conducted a feasibility study about the project, making Missouri’s proposed route the first to become the subject of such analysis.
Key questions remain about the company, its technology and Missouri’s chances of landing it. But that didn’t stop Hyperloop One representatives from discussing specifics during the visit to Columbia.
The company envisions the pods traveling across routes on-demand, similar to a ride-share, in which consumers could take the next available, rather than a predetermined schedule.
Pods could move in convoys or singularly, and could fit 28 passengers. Hammer said the tickets would cost $30-$40 a trip. She said all passengers within the pods would be delivered to the same location, minimizing time spent on stops.
Hammer said the Hyperloop would be 10 times more energy efficient than air travel and has the potential to use many types of energy, including solar.
Other routes Hyperloop One is considering include one across the state of Texas and another between Chicago and Pittsburg. With any route, Hammer said there is the chance for routes to loop and go both directions.