Experts: Great Lakes Hyperloop Study Full of Dubious Claims

About that Hyperloop report…

Read Time: 2 minutes

December 20, 2019, 7:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Hyperloop

Melpomene / Shutterstock

Aaron Gordon spoke to a number of transit and transportation experts and produces scathing criticism of the recent Great Lakes Hyperloop feasibility study released earlier this week.

The study, published by the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, estimated the price of the project at $29.8 billion and called for more studies of the project. Studies will be necessary, according to Gordon, because Hyperloop technology is totally unproven.

As such, a Hyperloop feasibility study is a strange document, somewhat like studying the conservation of the unicorn population after a few people strapped a horn onto a horse. As of this writing, Hyperloops have not transported any humans. The maximum speed a test pod has reached is 288 mph, well short of the advertised maximum velocity of 650 mph, or 700, or even 750 (the number varies article by article, not exactly a reassuring testament to the precision of their estimates). 

The argument in favor of the Hyperloop doesn't just stop at travel speeds. The feasibility report also touts lofty economic development and job creation figures. There's a very large problem with those estimates, according to Gordon.

That all sounds real good except it’s also totally unclear how they arrived at these numbers. Despite the study’s 156-page length, it is extremely light on methodology or the assumptions baked into the calculations. In fact, any mention of study methodology or assumptions directs inquiring minds to an appendix. However, the feasibility study does not have an appendix, nor does the study’s landing page on NOACA’s website.

Gordon speaks to a number of experts who also noticed those discrepancies in the report, and they all express unequivocal caution at the idea that Hyperloop could possibly live up to the initial billing sold in the feasibility report.

Looming behind all of this Hyperloop discussion, are pressing needs on infrastructure and economic development investment that are already proven, and could provide tremendous benefit to the regions exploring the Hyperloop (the Great Lakes Hyperloop isn't the only one). 

Wednesday, December 18, 2019 in Jalopnik

Chicago Commute

The Right to Mobility

As we consider how to decarbonize transportation, preserving mobility, especially for lower- and middle-income people, must be a priority.

January 26, 2023 - Angie Schmitt

Green bike lane with flexible delineators and textures paint in Hoboken, New Jersey

America’s Best New Bike Lanes

PeopleForBikes highlights some of the most exciting new bike infrastructure projects completed in 2022.

January 31, 2023 - PeopleforBikes

Sharrow bike markings on black asphalt two-lane road with snowy trees

Early Sharrow Booster: ‘I Was Wrong’

The lane marking was meant to raise awareness and instill shared respect among drivers and cyclists. But their inefficiency has led supporters to denounce sharrows, pushing instead for more robust bike infrastructure that truly protects riders.

January 26, 2023 - Streetsblog USA

A tent covered in blue and black tarps sits on a downtown Los Angeles sidewalk with the white ziggurat-topped L.A. City Hall looming in the background

L.A. County Towns Clash Over Homelessness Policies

Local governments often come to different conclusions about how to address homelessness within their respective borders, but varying approaches only exacerbate the problem.

February 3 - Shelterforce Magazine

Rendering of mixed-use development with parks and stormwater retention on former Houston landfill site

A Mixed-Use Vision for Houston Landfill Site

A local nonprofit is urging the city to consider adding mixed-use development to the site, which city officials plan to turn into a stormwater detention facility.

February 3 - Urban Edge

Aerial view of downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin at sunset

Milwaukee County Makes Substantial Progress on Homelessness

In 2022, the county’s point-in-time count of unhoused people reflected just 18 individuals, the lowest in the country.

February 3 - Urban Milwaukee