Virgin Hyperloop One has a new chief executive officer (CEO) with some serious experience in passenger transportation and mass transit.
Notably, Jay Walder formerly served as CEO of New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and Hong Kong’s Mass Transit Railway (MTR). In addition, Walder helped developed Transport for London’s Oyster card payment system.
Importantly, the MTA operates the New York Subway, the city’s buses, the Long Island Railroad, the Staten Island Railroad, Bridges and Tunnels, and the Metro North Railroad. Hence, Walder has had a vast amount of experience with a wide variety of transit.
Walder will replace Intel veteran Rob Lloyd as Virgin Hyperloop One’s CEO, Wired reports. In contrast to Lloyd, Walder has real-world experience with high-speed rail, real estate development, and transit finance.
Transit Veteran Walder takes the reigns at Virgin Hyperloop One
For instance, Walder served as managing director for finance and development at Transport for London. Moreover, Walder began his career on finance and capital projects at MTA in New York.
Conversely, Walder brings startup and ridesharing experience to Virgin Hyperloop One. He also served as CEO at Motivate, a bicycle-sharing company that Lyft acquired during summer 2018.
Walder will serve under DP World CEO Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem who replaced the larger-than-life Sir Richard Branson as Virgin Hyperloop One CEO. Branson left after replacing Hyperloop One’s controversial founder Shervin Pishevar last year. Pishevar was driven out because of sexual assault allegations.
New Virgin Hyperloop One CEO needs to win over Transit Industry
Walder faces tough challenges at Virgin Hyperloop One CEO. For instance, he has to sale Hyperloop to transit agencies and local governments.
Hence, Walder’s lifetime of experience in the transit bureaucracies of three of the world’s great cities will come in handy. However, Walder lacks experience with freight transport which Hyperloop will need to make money.
On the other hand, Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem brings a lot of experience with freight to Virgin Hyperloop One. In particular, DP World is one of the world’s port operators. For example, DP World claims to service 70,000 freighters each year and move 174,000 cargo containers every day.
Can Jay Walder make Hyperloop a reality?
Thus, Virgin Hyperloop One has a lot of practical experience with transportation its chief competitor HTT lacks. Such experience could be critical to making Hyperloop a viable transportation system.
That challenge will be difficult because Hyperloop differs vastly from existing transportation systems. Fortunately, Walder understands this reality.
“This is disruptive technology, and it’s changing the way we think about moving passengers,” Walder tells Wired. “But unlike other disruptive technologies—like Uber coming into cities—hyperloop is something that has to work collaboratively and cooperatively in partnership with them.”
Only time will tell if Jay Walder is the man who will make Hyperloop a reality.