This just in: The people who want to build a hyperloop from St. Louis to Kansas City think a hyperloop is totally feasible.
You don't say!
Yesterday, Virgin Hyperloop One unveiled its feasibility study
on the system at VERGE18, "one of the most prominent annual sustainability-focused conferences in the world." The study, they say, confirms "the commercial viability of Virgin Hyperloop One technology" — and as it turns out, Missouri's I-70 corridor is just the place to put it. Eric Greitens may be gone, but the Show Me State's dream of leading the nation in something
is not dead!
But despite presenting the study, and issuing a press release on the study, Virgin Hyperloop One is not actually releasing
the study. "Intellectual property theft
," don't you know.
So! We'll just have to take their word for it .... even if it does feel like patter straight out of that monorail conman on The Simpsons
. "And well sir, as far as Virgin Hyperloop One is concerned, there is nothing on Earth like a genuine bona-fide
electrified monorail hyperloop."
Among the avowals Virgin Hyperloop One's study is making:
- Traveling from KC to STL in a chute could take just 28 minutes
- That same chute could get your ass to Columbia in just fifteen minutes
- For passengers, it would be even cheaper than the cost of gas, because Missouri is all in on Hyperloop One, and so MoDOT has told them they can just use its land around the highway, no eminent domain needed.
- It would single-handedly save Missouri drivers $91 million every year simply by reducing accidents on I-70
- It would also save $410 million annually, because time is money, and apparently a whole lot of people are just sitting in their cars trying to get to Kansas City rather than building empire
And here's the real kicker:
- Demand for trips to Kansas City from St. Louis (and vice versa) is going to totes skyrocket. Simply because we have a hyperloop, we're going to all feel like using it, to the point that 51,000 people are going to sign up for each trip — which is apparently an 80 percent increase over the number of people currently trying to get to and fro on a given day without a pneumatic tube.
The fact is, with 51,000 people per trip, they're clearly not talking about only St. Louisans who have actual business in Kansas City using this thing on the regular. The rest of us are apparently meant to chute over for dinner, or drinks, or even just Tinder hookups. Because hey, hyperloop! Feasible!
Now, you might ask, why would we suddenly want to spend time (albeit only 28 minutes) and money (albeit less than the cost of petroleum) to traverse back and forth to a place that's a perfectly lovely city and all, but one that basically has all the same stuff St. Louis has? Not to be nattering nabobs or anything, but most of us can't be bothered to visit Maryland Heights more than once a year, and that we can do in the comfort of our cars. Why would we mess around with chuting ourselves back and forth in a pneumatic tube
Alas, answers to these questions are not forthcoming — intellectual property theft being the threat that it is and all. We'll just have to take their word for it. If they build it, we will come! Field of dreams, baby! St. Louis and Kansas City, the center of a new national transportation option even better than, well, monorail.
Let's face it: It's more of a Shelbyville idea, really.
Sarah Fenske is the editor in chief of the Riverfront Times. Follow her on Twitter @sarahfenske