Wagswoofs – The Hyperloop is dead.
Hyperloop One, previously known as Virgin Hyperloop, has recently made the decision to sell off its assets and close down operations by the end of this year, as reported by Bloomberg. This unfortunate development marks the end of a once-promising vision that had captured the attention of Missouri officials back in 2017. The concept of transporting individuals from St. Louis to Kansas City in just 23 minutes had sparked excitement and intrigue since its inception.
Inside the tubes.
The Hyperloop’s demise seems to have gone unnoticed by local media, which is not surprising. This significant event in our state’s history may be better suited for the attention of historians, should they be willing to delve into it.
Do you remember when Gov. Eric Greitens made a bold proclamation about the Hyperloop being crucial in attracting Amazon’s new headquarters to the state? I’m guessing you probably don’t recall, or perhaps you’d prefer to put that memory behind you.
And what about the blue-ribbon panel led by Gov. Mike Parson, or the partnership between the University of Missouri and Virgin Hyperloop, along with a prominent engineering firm from Kansas City? It’s particularly hard to forget when Missouri was named a semi-finalist for a Hyperloop test track, and state officials had to admit the six most humiliating words ever.
“We were defeated by West Virginia.”
West Virginia’s failure to secure the test track is not a source of comfort. Additionally, according to The Verge, the company raised around $450 million in venture capital funds and other investments, which ultimately proved to be in vain.
Missouri’s previous support for Hyperloop cannot be overlooked. It was not just a partial commitment, but a full embrace. It is important to note that this did not occur in the distant past, but rather recently.
In the span of your young life, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch made headlines by featuring this story on its front page on a Friday:
Missouri banks on futuristic tube travel to woo Amazon HQ2.
In 2017, Missouri, like many other states, participated in Amazon’s highly publicized search for a second headquarters. During this process, Hyperloop was touted as our secret weapon. The Washington Post, however, did note that Hyperloop was a futuristic and largely unproven people-mover.
On October 20, 2017, it was prominently featured as the top news story.
Missouri Governor Eric Greitens is extending an enticing offer to Amazon, suggesting that the company could have not just one, but two cities – St. Louis and Kansas City – along with a touch of Columbia, if it decides to establish its second headquarters in the state.
The Greitens administration believes that linking two locations through the Hyperloop could potentially encourage the online retailer to consider adding a Missouri location to its list.
Hey Amazon, even though our two largest cities may seem 250 miles apart, here in these parts, it’s just a short 23-minute tube ride. It’s hard to believe, but this isn’t satire. To make matters worse, there was even this quote on behalf of Greitens, who was occupied elsewhere.
“We believe that this idea should be given serious thought. It aligns with Amazon’s innovative mindset,” expressed Drew Erdmann, Greitens’ chief operating officer. “We are simply encouraging Amazon to approach it from a fresh perspective.”
I believe Amazon considered us from a fresh perspective.
Speaking of monstrous billionaires, there is a silver lining to the Hyperloop story that Elon Musk will surely welcome with open arms.
In 2013, Musk kickstarted the Hyperloop initiative with what became known as his “alpha paper,” as described by the Verge.
Elon Musk proposed a concept where aerodynamic aluminum capsules, carrying passengers or cargo, could be propelled through a low-pressure tube at speeds reaching up to 760 mph. These tubes, whether elevated or underground, could be constructed within cities or between them. Musk referred to this idea as the “fifth mode of transportation” and believed it had the potential to revolutionize various aspects of our lives, including work, trade, and travel.
Anything that negatively affects Musk is considered positive in my book. However, coming from Missouri, I guess I should stay out of this one. Ray Hartmann, the founder of the Riverfront Times, shares his thoughts in his subscription-based newsletter, Ray Hartmann’s St. Louis Insider on Substack.