Weather could Provide Hyperloop’s Biggest Advantage

The biggest advantage to the Hyperloop as a transportation system could be its lack of vulnerability to the weather, rather than its speed.

Since the Hyperloop vehicles would operate inside a closed tube, they would be largely unaffected by outside weather conditions such as blizzards. That certainly gives Elon Musk’s creation an edge over air travel. Around 1,000 flights were cancelled at Denver International Airport on March 23, 2016 because of a massive snowstorm.

Nor is it just air travel that was affected. During the same storm, all three of the major Interstate Highways serving Denver, the north south I-25 and the east-west I-70 and I-76, were shut down. Such highway closures are a fact of life in Colorado, where I-70 on the Eastern Plains closes all the time in the winter.

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Snow is not the only weather condition that can shut down highways and airports; dust storms regularly shut down I-10 in Arizona and occasionally cause deadly accidents on that road. Fog and other conditions often shut down Interstates 15 and 5 in California.

Rain can be vulnerable to the weather as well, for freight and passenger trains often derail when floodwaters wash out their tracks. New Jersey Transit shut down all of its train, bus, and light rail service on Jan. 23, 2016 because of a blizzard.

Seamless and Uninterrupted Transportation

The Hyperloop could provide a huge advantage here because its closed system would be largely unaffected by weather conditions. For example, air travelers stranded by a blizzard could simply take the Hyperloop to another airport outside the area affected by the storm. If there were something like a Hyperloop in Colorado, the airplanes diverted from Denver could have simply landed at Colorado Springs or Pueblo and the passengers could have travelled into Denver via Hyperloop.

Obviously, there might be ways in which weather could affect Hyperloop, but it would be far less vulnerable than traditional open railroad tracks or a highway. The system could keep operating through snow, heavy rains, or even a dust storm. This could provide seamless uninterrupted transportation in the way that internet provides a seamless uninterrupted flow of information.

People would not have to miss work or cancel a vacation because of a snowstorm. Shipments of food, consumer goods, and parts or raw material for industry could continue even in the worst weather conditions. Factories could keep running and stores could stay open because they would receive supplies even in the worst weather conditions.

Another advantage might be far lower maintenance costs because there would be no weather damage to repair. Such damage also creates delays and increases travel costs.

Crashes caused by a dust storm on Arizona's I-10.
Crashes caused by a dust storm on Arizona’s I-10.

This means we are more likely to see the Hyperloop adopted first in areas with extreme weather, such as Siberia, Alaska, and the western United States. One logical place for a Hyperloop route is the I-15 corridor between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, which is sometimes closed by dust storms and other weather conditions.

Nevada Gives Hyperloop Technologies $9 Million Tax Break

Hyperloop Technologies (or Hyperloop Tech) has received a $9 million tax break for its Safety, Test and Development Loop at Apex Industrial Park in North Las Vegas from the state of Nevada, The Reno Gazette Journal reported.

Hyperloop Tech is already building a small test track at the Park, which is also supposed to be the home to Faraday Future’s electric car factory. The break will reduce the sales tax rate on supplies the company will buy for the building of a larger $120 million test track it plans to build next year.

The big track is supposed to be complete by the end of 2016, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, a Republican, told The Journal. Sandoval, a huge Hyperloop booster, even volunteered to be the first person to ride in Hyperloop Tech’s test pod.

“That is the Kitty Hawk moment,” Sandoval said about the pod’s planned maiden voyage. “I would put that on that level. This is huge.”

Hyperloop Tech is the Los Angeles-based startup organized by venture capitalist Shervin Pishevar and headed up by former Cisco president Rob Lloyd. It is currently the only company to actually be building a Hyperloop tube. News articles did not say where the pod that Hyperloop Tech plans to test will come from.

According to its website, Hyperloop Tech has greatly increased the number of people on its staff. It now has at least two corporate counsels and lots of technicians on the payroll. The company is apparently increasing its hiring, so if you’re looking for a job in a cutting edge industry, you might check it out.