How Hyperloop will disrupt everything

The Hyperloop will disrupt everything because it could make long-distance transportation incredibly fast, and very cheap. Thus, Hyperloop is Elon Musk’s most radical and disruptive idea.

If it works as advertised, the Hyperloop will disrupt everything by making high-speed long-distance travel as easy as taking the subway across town. For example, a Hyperloop vehicle could theoretically make the 373.5-mile trip from New York City to Buffalo, New York, in 37 minutes.[1] Conversely, the same trip currently takes six hours and 18 minutes by car, and three hours and 36 minutes by plane.

Therefore, a working Hyperloop could disrupt travel, real estate, land use patterns, regional government, local government, taxation, housing, industry, manufacturing, retail, employment, the economy, politics, and transportation. Thus every thinking person and investor needs to investigate Hyperloop.

What is Hyperloop anyway?

The Hyperloop is hard to understand because it is a deceptively simple idea most of the media fails to comprehend.

Essentially, the Hyperloop is a long tube from which they pump most of the air out of. Removing the air enables high speeds because it eliminates wind resistance. Thus, Hyperloop uses the same principle as jet airplanes to achieve high speeds it moves in a low air-pressure environment.

However, a jet needs to burn huge amounts of fuel; usually, kerosene, to reach that environment. To explain, jets are so fast because they fly at high altitudes thousands of feet above the ground where the air pressure is low.

On the other hand, the Hyperloop tube runs along the ground. In fact, Musk is demonstrating that you can bury Hyperloop tubes under the city streets like a subway.

Therefore, a Hyperloop could come right into cities like Manhattan or Chicago. Thus, nobody will need to make a 40-minute drive or train ride out to the airport ride the Hyperloop.

Why Hyperloop will disrupt everything

Moreover, Hyperloop could theoretically achieve speeds up to 700 miles an hour with simple electric motors and magnetic levitation. Hence, no diesel fuel, no pollution, and no noisy jet engines.

Notably, nobody knows if the 700-mile per hour Hyperloop speed is workable. In fact, the highest speed a Hyperloop pod has reportedly reached is 290 miles per hour (466 kilometers per hour). Additionally, as far as I know no actual human beings have ridden in a Hyperloop vehicle. Thus, the technology is unproven.

Finally, an operator could shoot dozens of pods through a Hyperloop tube in the time it takes a jet to make one flight. Hence, a Hyperloop could theoretically move the same amounts of freight or passengers as a train.

No, it is Not Elon Musk’s Hyperloop

Ironically, the Hyperloop is not really Musk’s idea, and Musk is not the technology’s main developer.

In fact, inventors proposed transportation systems that use pneumatic tubes and air pressure to move goods as early as 1799, Business Insider points out. Notably, pneumatic tube transportation systems were operating in London in 1865. Moreover, the Beach Pneumatic Transit subway operated in Manhattan from 1870 to 1873.

Additionally, rocket pioneer Robert Goddard proposed a train system similar to the Hyperloop in 1910. In detail, Goddard’s train traveled through a tube and used magnetic levitation to reach high speeds just like Musk‘s Hyperloop. Plus, MIT researchers proposed a similar vacuum tube train system powered by magnetism in the 1990s.

Musk entered the picture by proposing a tube connecting Los Angeles and San Francisco in 2013. In addition, Musk created the name Hyperloop for his project with a 57-page white paper.

So who is developing the Hyperloop?

Consequently, Musk launched the modern Hyperloop race by inspiring several organizations to enter the field. However, two companies; HyperloopTT and Virgin Hyperloop One, appear to be far ahead of Musk in Hyperloop development.

For instance, Virgin Hyperloop One has a test track in North Las Vegas, Nevada, where it is testing Hyperloop Pods. In addition, Hyperloop TT has a larger test track in Toulouse, France, and has built a full-sized Hyperloop vehicle. Both Hyperloop One and HyperloopTT have several partnerships with other organizations to build lines.

In addition, Musk’s more chaotic efforts include plans for Hyperloop subways in Los Angeles and Chicago and a Hyperloop connecting New York and Washington. Plus, Musk conducts well-publicized contests to publicize the technology at his SpaceX rocket factory in Hawthorne, California.

Under these circumstances, it is likely that somebody will build a working Hyperloop within the next few years. Interestingly, both HyperloopTT and Hyperloop One are boasting; without proof, that they could have a working commercial Hyperloop up and running within two or three years.

Thus we had better pay close attention because Hyperloop has the potential to disrupt everything.

The Ways Hyperloop will disrupt everything

There are many ways that Hyperloop will disrupt everything. However, a few massive disruptions stand out from Hyperloop’s potential effects.

Some of the greatest Hyperloop disruptions will include:

Theoretically, Hyperloop will make commuting from Buffalo to Manhattan easy as commuting from Staten Island to Manhattan. To explain, Hyperloop One claims its technology offers a 37 minute trip between New York City and Buffalo.

If that becomes true many people will live in Buffalo and commute to New York because of housing costs. Notably, the average home in Buffalo costs $83,200, Zillow estimates. Meanwhile, the average home in New York costs $680,400.

Nor is it only New York, Hyperloop connections could turn many places into bedroom communities. For instance, Cheyenne, Wyoming, could become a suburb of Denver.

In addition, Kingman, and Lake Havasu City, Arizona, could become suburbs of Los Angeles or Las Vegas. Furthermore, Green Bay, Wisconsin, could become a Chicago suburb. Plus, Charleston, West Virginia, could become Washington D.C.’s next suburb. Overseas, Manchester and Birmingham could become suburbs of London.

Obviously, suburbanization will completely change the character of these cities. In addition, there are some interesting political complications from Hyperloop suburbanization. Notably, Wyoming has no income tax, something Denver office workers could find tempting.

  • Destroying vast amounts of real estate value.

The old; and very true, adage is that location is everything in real estate. However, Hyperloop could turn that upside down by destroying the value of many locations.

Take Brooklyn, for instance, the New York borough’s only real value is its proximity to Manhattan. Realtors base Brooklyn’s $785,000 average home price on a short subway or Uber trip to Manhattan.

Build a Hyperloop system and everything changes because the Northeastern US is full of towns and cities with Brooklyn’s attributes. That is old industrial cities filled with funky historic buildings.

Moreover, many of those cities, like Buffalo, offer the allure of cheap real estate. Hence, a Hyperloop could send Brooklyn real estate values into the toilet while causing real estate bubbles in cities like Buffalo.   

  • Reshaping the world’s trade routes.

The Chinese government is very interested in Hyperloop because of the technology’s potential to speed up trade. For instance, Russian President Vladimir Putin has proposed a Hyperloop Silk Road that would connect China and Europe through Russia.

In addition, the Chinese government is developing the Belt & Road initiative a network of rail and sea connections between China and Europe. Interestingly, some of this network already exists; 6,300 trains made the trip between Europe and China in 2018, GBtimes estimates. The trains move goods from China’s factories to Europe’s markets.

Adding Hyperloop to the mix is the next logical step. The groundwork for such a network is being formed. In particular, there is a joint venture between HyperloopTT and the operators of Europe’s largest rail port (Hamburg) adapt the technology to containerized cargo shipment.

The consequences from such a freight mover could be immense. For example, it could put large amounts of oceanic shipping out of business. In addition, Europe could become totally economically dependent on Chinese industry.

  • Wiping out the airline industry and vast numbers of high-paying jobs.

For instance, there were around 159,825 airline transport pilots in the United States in 2017, the FAA estimates. Importantly, the average airline pilot earns a salary of $113,709 a year, Glassdoor calculates.

Many of those pilots make their living by flying short-haul passenger hops; for example, New York to Buffalo, or Los Angeles to Las Vegas. Hyperloop passenger services between such locations will make such short-haul flights uneconomical.

Therefore, a side effect of Hyperloop could be large numbers of unemployed pilots and airplane mechanics. A few pilots could find work flying long-haul flights but most pilots will end up delivering pizza or driving Uber.

Beyond pilots, there are locomotive engineers, railroad, truckers, and other workers in industries that could not compete with Hyperloop. I have to wonder what the political reaction will be when people realize Hyperloop’s potential to kill jobs.

  • Amazon Prime on Steroids

Finally, former Hyperloop One CEO Rob Lloyd once described his company’s technology as “Amazon Prime on Steroids.”

Lloyd’s vision is that Hyperloop will allow fast delivery of almost anything anywhere. To demonstrate, somebody who lives in Cleveland could order dinner from his favorite Italian restaurant in Manhattan via GrubHub or UberEats. The restaurant could ship the dinner to Cleveland on the Hyperloop and deliver it to the diner’s house by a local UberEats driver.

Beyond food, the Hyperloop could enable same-day package shipment between New York and Los Angeles. Thus, a fulfillment center in Nebraska could ship orders to customers in New Jersey with a 24-hour or 12-hour turnaround.

A likely consequence of such an economy is that local or neighborhood businesses will be unable to compete. Hence, most brick and mortar retail could become extinct thanks to Hyperloop.

As you can see Hyperloop really has the potential to disrupt everything. In fact, I think Hyperloop could be the most disruptive innovation in ground transportation since the automobile. Hence, those who see Hyperloop coming could make a lot of money from it.

Understanding Hyperloop is critical because it will disrupt everything including our lives, our economies, our countries, and our communities.


[1] Source:  Virgin Hyperloop One Route Estimator: https://hyperloop-one.com/route-estimator/new-york-city-us/buffalo-us/travel-times