Elon Musk might have played a really cool joke on the big media and got away with it. He succeeded because the joke is plausible but not feasible.
At 9:09 a.m. on July 20, 2017 Musk sent out this Tweet:
“Just received verbal govt approval for The Boring Company to build an underground NY-Phil-Balt-DC Hyperloop. NY-DC in 29 mins.”
The problems with Musk’s claim are legion: first he does not say what government. Is it the federal government, a state, a city, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) of New York or Port Authority? For all we know Musk’s “verbal permission” might come from the Mayor of West Orange, New Jersey.
Why Musk’s Hyperloop Tweet is a Joke
Even if Musk had verbal approval from President Trump himself; it would be worthless without legislation from Congress. Another problem is that without writing, Trump can simply deny he gave verbal permission at any time. No verbal agreement is worth anything.
My guess is that would take several years of negotiation to get approval for the tunnel Musk wants. The route he proposed would require permission from five states (New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland), New York City, MTA, Port Authority, the federal government and the District of Columbia to name just a few.
It would probably require legislation from Congress, state legislatures and city councils in addition to review by droves of regulatory agencies. Therefore Musk’s tunnel might be legally impossible.
Elon Musk Just Showed Why CBS News is now a Bad Joke
Disturbingly the big media including CBS; which has become little more than a press agent for another Twitter egomaniac Donald J. Trump, quickly fell for Musk’s scam. What is even more disgusting is that the same “journalists” ignored real news about a real Hyperloop achievement by Hyperloop One.
CBS (NYSE: CBS) did not even mention Hyperloop One; which had just tested a working full-sized Hyperloop in Nevada, in its report. Even though it showed clips from Hyperloop One’s YouTube videos in its report.
Perhaps Musk is to be congratulated for demonstrating what a joke CBS News has become. Hopefully some company; like Disney or Verizon, will buy CBS and shut down its’ news operation – which has become a national disgrace.
Technically Musk’s New York to DC Tunnel is Feasible, Financially it would be Impossible
Strangely enough Musk’s tunnel is technologically feasible. Hyperloop One is already testing a full-sized Hyperloop in North Las Vegas. It would be a fairly simple; but expensive, matter to bore new tunnels under Washington, New York and Philadelphia – or repurpose some older tunnels.
Outside the cities, Musk can use the proven cheaper “cut and cover” method to dig his tunnel. “Cut and cover” would mean to dig a deep trench and bury the Hyperloop in it. That’s how the New York subways were originally built. Cut and cover might be fairly might be fairly fast these days given modern excavation equipment.
The cost would probably be prohibitive, the distance between New York and Washington is around 226 miles if you follow Interstate 95. Since it costs around $1 billion a mile to build a subway and might cost around $1 billion a mile to build a Hyperloop. Musk’s tunnel might cost $452 billion a price tag I cannot envision Congress paying for.
Even if Musk has permission from inside the White House that would do little good; because it is Congress not the President, that writes the budget and appropriates money. Somebody should send Elon a copy of the Constitution, so he’ll stop wasting his time at the White House – and go to Capitol Hill where the real power is.
Questions Musk Needs to Answer about the Great Hyperloop Tunnel
Other questions remain here, like why not just put the Hyperloop in a big tube running along I-95? And why just Washington to New York why not extend it north to Boston or Portsmouth, New Hampshire, or Halifax, Nova Scotia?
I’m sure members of Congress from Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maine and New Hampshire will raise those questions to Musk. Or for that matter why not extend it south to Richmond, Raleigh, Winston-Salem, Atlanta, Jacksonville, Orlando and Miami?
Another question will arise when some Congressman or Senator from Out West asks why not spend that money to build a transcontinental Hyperloop? Strangely enough; a Hyperloop tube from New York to San Francisco or New York to Los Angeles might be cheaper than his tunnel, and easier to sell to Congress. A Senator from Nebraska might appropriate money for a Hyperloop that runs through Omaha; but he won’t spend a cent on one that just goes from Manhattan to Georgetown.
From a practical standpoint, Musk’s latest Hyperloop tweet is a joke; but it’s a really good joke because it got Americans thinking about transportation and infrastructure. Hopefully Musk will keep up the jokes we can use more of them.