The Hyperloop, an intracity transportation network of pneumatic tubes that ferry pods of passengers between destinations at up to 700 miles per hour, has been one of the most fantastical ideas that have come out of Elon Musk’s head, but one that has caught the attention of several companies. Currently there are two startups racing to build the first working Hyperloop. If either (or both) succeed, it could change the way people travel between cities and greatly cut down journey times. The five-hour car ride from Los Angeles to San Francisco would just be 36 minutes on the Hyperloop, for example.
But Dirk Ahlborn, CEO of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, one of the companies working on building a test Hyperloop in Quail Valley, California by 2018 and a full-sized Hyperloop connecting Bratislava, Slovakia with Vienna, Austria and Budapest, Hungary says that hyperloops aren’t only for intracity travel.
Giving a keynote at this year’s SXSW, Ahlborn said intercity Hyperloops will be just as practical and efficient as the ones connecting distant cities together, reports Business Insider. Not only that, but Ahlborn says a ride on an intercity Hyperloop will actually be cheaper than a traditional subway ticket.
“L.A. to San Francisco, you are at a $30 price ticket, so then we have recovered our initial cost after eight years. Inside the city, we are cheaper than a subway,” Ahlborn said. “But it’s really about figuring out your business model.”
Ahlborn didn’t say when he thought the first intercity Hyperloops would start appearing, but he’s previously said his company would build three Hyperloops by 2020.