But How Much Will It Cost Me?
Specific ticket prices are far away. Be assured that the Hyperloop is intended to be not only faster than air travel, but also cheaper. Musk estimates that with an annual ridership of 7.4 million, $20 of each one-way ticket would be sufficient to pay off the project in twenty years. Surplus electricity from the solar cells will offset a great deal of daily operating costs.
Numerous civic and business leaders doubt Musk's $6 billion price tag. Some estimate closer to $100 billion. California may be a difficult place to build it. Already $9.95 billion in bonds have been secured for the California High-Speed Rail project, which aims to connect San Francisco and Los Angeles by 2029 with a 200 mile per hour train.
Once developed, the technology could be used nearly anywhere. Musk assures that the system could be used above or below ground. Operating underwater would certainly have its own slew of problems. Tunneling through or building around mountains would add expense. The acceleration force would be no greater than the take-off of an airplane, but designers are careful to limit lateral g-forces. The Hyperloop cannot do sharp corners. At top speed, turn radius could be no less than 16 miles. In places where more turns are required, the cars could travel no faster than 300 miles per hour.
Anywhere relatively flat and open would be a great place for a Hyperloop. Perhaps a coast-to-coast line across the Great Plains or curving north from Seattle across Canada to New York.
Many aspects of the technology still need to be developed, but R&D is happening right now. Musk hopes to have a feasibility study completed in 2015. We may only be a decade or so away from completion in California or elsewhere.
One day we may think it silly that we travelled across land in a slow, dangerous, complicated airplane.