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Don't Believe The Hype – Yet: North Texas Interest In Hyperloop Could Signal A Statewide System

Hyperloop One

Texas’ Hyperloop dreams are no longer confined to a pipe.

Officials in North Texas plan on putting some money behind an environmental impact study of a 700-mph train between Dallas, Fort Worth and Arlington. That project, ideally, would later expand to a network that would include Austin, as well.

The Dallas-Fort Worth Regional Transportation Council announced today its intention to fund a study to construct the Hyperloop lines or a high-speed rail project, a more storied pipe dream in the annals of tentative Texas transportation.

Credit Hyperloop One

Dreamed up by Tesla and Space X founder Elon Musk, the system uses pods to carry passengers at high speeds in pressurized tubes along a magnetic rail.

Today's announcement is noteworthy because, until now, regional transportation agencies like the RTC – the North Texas equivalent of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) – hadn’t expressly weighed in on the prospect of a Hyperloop system. 

Board members of the RTC recently visited the Hyperloop test track in Nevada.

A study of this sort typically portends progress for projects of this magnitude, as they’re integral to planning and development going forward. Still, it’s the equivalent of a baby step in a marathon.

It’s unclear how much money is being set aside for the study, but the RTC says it plans on putting out a call for bids on a study later this year. If built, the line would zip passengers between Dallas and Fort Worth – a 40-ish minute drive – in about six minutes. The RTC said it has also set aside money to study the feasibility of a larger system that would connect the DFW area with Austin, Killeen, Temple, San Antonio and Laredo.

Last year, Hyperloop Texas, an Austin-based collective looking to bring the world’s first Hyperloop line to the Lone Star State, was one of 10 finalists in a global contest for proposals from 2,600 teams. In its proposal, Hyperloop Texas promised a 19-minute commute between Austin and Dallas.

As for Austin’s regional transportation agency, CAMPO, it's seemingly less jazzed about the prospect of a Hyperloop system in Central Texas.

At a TxDOT-sponsored workshop in March, CAMPO advisers were asked to rank their preference of existing or emerging transportation technology. A report of the workshop shows no members casting a vote for the Hyperloop.

“Hyperloop and delivery drones were not preferred by the group,” the report said.

Andrew Weber is a general assignment reporter for KUT, focusing on criminal justice, policing, courts and homelessness in Austin and Travis County. Got a tip? You can email him at Follow him on Twitter @England_Weber.
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