Cities want to believe in the hyperloop because US infrastructure is so bad

Shailen Bhatt, the executive director of Colorado’s Department of Transportation, has high hopes for the hyperloop. He would like to see one cutting right through the middle of the Rocky Mountain State, connecting half a dozen cities, reducing travel time from hours to mere minutes, and bolstering Colorado’s image as a high-tech destination.

“Freight rail moves freight, high-speed rail moves passengers,” Bhatt said, “Hyperloop has the potential to do both.”

Never mind the fact that no human or freight has ever traveled by hyperloop for the simple reason that there are no hyperloops anywhere in the world. Despite the millions of dollars committed by hopeful investors, the technology has yet to be tested in any meaningful way. LA-based startup Hyperloop One says it just finished its half-kilometer-long test track in the desert north of Las Vegas, and in a few months it will conduct its first full-system test. But as of now, the hyperloop only exists in the spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations of Hyperloop One’s marketing team.

So it’s a little surprising that Bhatt and dozens of other US state officials — folks from Texas, Ohio, California, Massachusetts, and elsewhere — trekked all the way to a rainy Washington, DC, in early April for Hyperloop One’s official US launch. These officials were participants in the company’s “global challenge,” in which cities and states from all over the world vie to present the most feasible hyperloop routes. Many of these officials told The Verge that they were aware of the limitations of the hyperloop but remain boosters of the technology in the hopes that when it gets built, it will be in their own backyards.

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