Transit in a Tube: Feds Back Hyperloop One at SXSW

A federal council from the U.S. Department of Transportation aims to eliminate roadblocks to innovative transit like the Virgin Hyperloop One, self-driving vehicles, and high-speed railways.

A rendering of the Hyperloop One station shown in a slide presentation by Steven Duong earlier this month.

Virgin Hyperloop One, the proposed transportation system that would whiz people in a tube-enclosed pod from Dallas to Houston in an estimated 30 minutes, got a huge boost from the federal government during SXSW 2019.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao told the audience that she has created a transportation technology council aimed at eliminating regulatory and legal roadblocks for the Virgin Hyperloop One project and similar systems.

The council aims to expedite innovative transportation networks in the U.S. CultureMap reports members of the council are exploring various transportation methods including transit tunnels, self-driving vehicles, high-speed railways, and other disruptive forms of mass transportation.

“Hyperloop is a new mode of transportation that is built for the 21st century,” Virgin Hyperloop One CEO Jay Walder said in a statement. “We want to be the company that spearheads the next giant leap forward in transportation here in the United States, but we know we can’t do it alone.”

Virgin Hyperloop One picked the Texas route in 2017. It would connect Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, Houston, Laredo, and San Antonio. The Hyperloop would offer two stops in both DFW and Houston, and one each in Austin, San Antonio, and Laredo.

READ NEXT DFW Transportation Group Says it’s Exploring Hyperloop as Option to Connect Area Cities

The trip between Austin and Dallas would take 19 minutes at speeds up to 670 mph.

Virgin Hyperloop One has projects underway in Colorado, Missouri, and the Chicago-Columbus-Pittsburgh corridor, InnovationMap reported. Virgin Group—led by noted billionaire entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson—is among Hyperloop One’s investors.

The new federal council will examine technological innovations such as transit tunnels and self-driving vehicles with an aim to hasten development of innovative mass transportation systems such as Virgin Hyperloop One, InnovationMap wrote.

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