I just read an article about the low cost tunnels proposed by Mr. Musk’s Boring Company and it really flipped on a lightbulb in my head so I want to share my thoughts.
The Hyperloop idea he originally proposed is impractical for long distance travel. Yeah this is a pretty bold statement considering there’s a lot of hype around potential “Hyperloops” connecting cities. I feel pretty confident in saying that because I was involved at the beginning with starting the Hyperloop design team at Queen’s as well as thinking a lot about it in the past few years, leveraging what I learned in mechanical engineering.
A maglev or high speed rail just makes much more sense. For connecting large cities. So my hunch is that Mr. Musk also realized this after thinking more deeply about the LA to San Fran link he originally proposed. That’s why he changed gears and is now really going for cheap tunnels under LA, i.e. short trips within a city.
That’s where the real value of a “Hyperloop like” idea comes from. It wouldn’t be a low vacuum system though since you wouldn’t want or need to get up to those sorts of speeds for short trips. Thus eliminating the most impractical aspect of the whole thing. Oh also put it underground so you don’t have to worry about land costs and expropriation, the largest issue with transport systems.
Therefore: tiny, inexpensive tunnels just big enough for an SUV sized pod on a track. Sounds familiar right?
Although LA is a really tough spot to build cheap tunnels due to earthquakes and all the stuff needed to mitigate that. If the economics works there it really is a very good sign for almost everywhere else.