Experts: Great Lakes Hyperloop Study Full of Dubious Claims

About that Hyperloop report…

2 minute read

December 20, 2019, 7:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


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

Aerial view of homes on green hillsides in Daly City, California.

Depopulation Patterns Get Weird

A recent ranking of “declining” cities heavily features some of the most expensive cities in the country — including New York City and a half-dozen in the San Francisco Bay Area.

April 10, 2024 - California Planning & Development Report

Aerial view of Oakland, California with bay in background

California Exodus: Population Drops Below 39 Million

Never mind the 40 million that demographers predicted the Golden State would reach by 2018. The state's population dipped below 39 million to 38.965 million last July, according to Census data released in March, the lowest since 2015.

April 11, 2024 - Los Angeles Times

A view straight down LaSalle Street, lined by high-rise buildings with an El line running horizontally over the street.

Chicago to Turn High-Rise Offices into Housing

Four commercial buildings in the Chicago Loop have been approved for redevelopment into housing in a bid to revitalize the city’s downtown post-pandemic.

April 10, 2024 - Chicago Construction News

Woman with long hair wearing Covid mask sitting on underground train station bench looking at her watch as subway train approaches in background at Hollywood/Western station in Los Angeles, California.

How California Transit Agencies are Addressing Rider Harassment

Safety and harassment are commonly cited reasons passengers, particularly women and girls, avoid public transit.

April 17 - The American Prospect

Nighttime view of wildfire in Los Angeles hills.

Significant Investments Needed to Protect LA County Residents From Climate Hazards

A new study estimates that LA County must invest billions of dollars before 2040 to protect residents from extreme heat, increasing precipitation, worsening wildfires, rising sea levels, and climate-induced public health threats.

April 17 - Los Angeles Times

Bird's eye view of oil field in New Mexico desert.

Federal Rule Raises Cost for Oil and Gas Extraction on Public Lands

An update to federal regulations raises minimum bonding to limit orphaned wells and ensure cleanup costs are covered — but it still may not be enough to mitigate the damages caused by oil and gas drilling.

April 17 - High Country News

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Call for Speakers

Mpact Transit + Community

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.