Hyperloop on the Hill | Hyperloop One
Hyperloop on the Hill

Hyperloop on the Hill

Taylor Matalon
Strategic Communications, Virgin Hyperloop One

Just last month, Democratic and Republican leadership met to discuss the need for infrastructure reform and to come up with a trillion-dollar plan to fix it. Local leadership recognizes the need as well. In the annual “State of the Cities” report, researchers found that infrastructure (particularly failing roads and transit) was the 2nd most popular topic of mayoral platforms across the country.

More and more local governments are recognizing that hyperloop represents the future-focused, 21st century reform that we need. Several, such as those in mid-Ohio, Northern Texas, and central Missouri, are already moving forward with hyperloop as a way to bolster their infrastructure and economies. We are working closely with them to ensure that a hyperloop is built safely, efficiently, and utilizes existing right-of-ways.

This enthusiasm at the local level is coupled with the recognition that hyperloop, as an entirely new mode of transportation, requires coordinated regulation at the federal level. While it might feel intuitive to place hyperloop under the train category, the design of our system is fundamentally different in many ways; hyperloop does not fit into a regulatory structure that is over 100 years old. Our pods are more similar to airplane fuselages, our columns and tubes are more similar to industrial pipelines, and our complete autonomy is unprecedented in modern transportation systems.

Earlier this year, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao created the Non-Traditional and Emerging Transportation Technology Council (NETT) to explore the regulation and permitting of hyperloop technology to bring this new form of mass transportation to the United States. This council is a huge vote of confidence that the federal government wants to be on the right side of history with this innovation and support the demonstrated demand for hyperloop systems across the country. “We are now seeing the groundswell of support that’s needed to realize the hyperloop revolution with the formation of the NETT Council and support from lawmakers across the country,” said our CEO Jay Walder. “As hyperloop moves toward reality it’s becoming clear that it will not only transform how we travel but also create an entirely new industry with thousands of new jobs for Americans.”

On June 26th, we traveled to Capitol Hill, alongside with our local project partners, to share our progress with members of Congress and their staff. Over 400 attendees came to learn about our technology and how it could impact their localities. Lawmakers met with our local partners from Ohio, Missouri, Texas, and Nevada to discuss ongoing projects and the potential that hyperloop has to connect their communities, creating thousands of high-tech jobs, and attract the industries of the future. The room was abuzz with one key question. It wasn't "is this possible" but "when can I ride it." This excitement and dedication to transport innovation at the local and federal level is what makes a U.S. hyperloop possible. “We are seeing growing interest and excitement in the hyperloop vision from across the United States at both local and federal level,” said Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group. “I believe we could see a hyperloop in the U.S. in years, not decades.”

At the end of the day, it is not an app that gets you from A to B. It is the roads, bridges, tunnels, runways – none of which could have been possible without the support of policy makers. Public policy can foster the growth of emerging technologies and the companies that work on them. Federal funding has allowed for the incubation and growth of the Internet, artificial intelligence, GPS and many other foundational technologies. America once again has the opportunity to lead by embarking on a similar country-wide transformation.