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Hyperloop Texas Lead Shines Light On Latest Developments

Houston Economy
Steven Duong

Texans have plenty of questions about Hyperloop One's recent announcement it would be pursuing hundreds of miles of infrastructure to connect Texas' largest cities. Steven Duong, a senior urban designer in Aecom's Dallas office, who is leading the Hyperloop Texas team, filled Bisnow in on the details. 

The Texas Triangle As A Winner

"Hyperloop has changed the process a bit since it was originally announced," Duong said. "The competition is officially over. Hyperloop has selected its final list of 10 viable corridors and intends to follow through on all 10." 

Hyperloop's Next Step

According to Duong, the next step depends on each individual project, as each is in a different stage from a political support, design and engineering standpoint. Hyperloop One has not made a final decision on which corridor it will pursue first. Each of the 10 teams will continue development supported by Hyperloop One. 

Texas' Next Step

Texas' proposal is more complicated than other corridors. While others have long lines or multiple endpoints, the Texas plan has both. The first step will be identifying which leg of the Texas route is most viable to start with. Duong said the Texas system is far too big to do all at once.  

The second part will be an education effort. It is key the general public knows about the technology of Hyperloop travel. Duong admits it is not well understood, like traditional rail or even high-speed rail.

Hyperloop's Expected Operation Date

Hyperloop's goal is to have the system up and running somewhere in the world by 2021, but not necessarily Texas. Regulatory policy will be the most significant deciding factor. Governments will need to write policy to regulate Hyperloop travel. "There's a valid argument for that being achieved outside the U.S.," Duong said.  


Cost And Setup Of The Hyperloop

Wild estimates have floated around online about the price of Hyperloop travel. While details are still far from finalized, Duong said the aim is for the cost to be comparable to bus travel between cities.

Hyperloops One intends to operate as an on-demand service. Headway between pods can be under a minute. That means a high volume of pods can be moving through the system at any given time. The increase in riders would drive down costs. 

One major throughput tube will pass through a city, similar to a broadband connection. Several other arms will branch out where people can enter and exit the main throughput. The whole system will be automated, allowing for efficient timing and scheduling. 

Design Specifications

Most pod designs are for a couple of dozen passengers, roughly the size of a typical shipping container. Duong said it is important the Hypleroop be able to accommodate a shipping container to maintain its viability for freight shipping. 

A Hyperloop can be built above or below ground. Duong pointed out the potential synergy between Elon Musk's Hyperloop-idea and his Boring company that is pioneering advancements in tunneling. 

But the Texas leg will likely be above ground. Without much topography, an elevated Hyperloop makes sense in Texas, Duong said. 

Aecom's Relationship With Texas Central High-Speed Rail

While Duong is working on Hyperloop Texas, others at Aecom are busy working on Texas Central's Environmental Impact Study. 

In an effort to limit competition with Texas Central's bullet train, Hyperloop turned down ideas that included a direct connection from Dallas to Houston. Duong said traveling from Houston to Dallas on the Hyperloop will eventually be feasible, though it will be routed through Central Texas.