Innovation: Just five years ago, Elon Musk proposed his breakthrough “hyperloop” transportation idea, and there is already talk of building it in major urban areas. Over those same five years, California’s government-funded high-speed rail project has seen nothing but cost overruns and delays.
When Musk announced his futuristic hyperloop idea — a mass transit system in which passengers would travel in pods going hundreds of miles an hour inside vacuum tubes — in 2013, he blasted California’s high-speed rail project. “The train in question would be both slower, more expensive and less safe by two orders of magnitude than flying,” he wrote, “so why would anyone use it?”
Why indeed. And that was before it became clear that not only would California’s bullet train be slow and expensive, but riddled with endless delays and cost overruns.
In the five years since Musk issued his hyperloop document, California has made precious little progress on its bullet train. The state’s latest report pushed the completion date back four years — to 2033 — and hiked the cost by another 20%.
Even the initial 119-mile phase in the state’s Central Valley won’t be finished until 2022. That’s probably a stretch, too, since the only things completed so far have been two short bridge spans and a new overpass.
Meanwhile, progress on the hyperloop idea has moved at breakneck speed.