Landing humans on Mars + Hyperloop

Item date: 
September 29, 2017
Item context: 

Transport Futures founder Martin Collier was glad to be interviewed by CTV National News' reporter Genevieve Beauchemin regarding Elon Musk's Hyperloop plans. Because the 2 minute clip also covered Mr. Musk's rocket aspirations, Martin's 10 minutes of analysis was boiled down to 6 seconds. But at least he was given the last word on this transportation report and Ms. Beauchemin says there will be more interviews in the future. Hopefully those will delve into these points (most of which were also made to the Canadian Press on September 15):

1) Our current transportation policy work should not be distracted by speculative technologies that won’t be operational for decades. We must instead…
  • focus on mass transit technologies/investments (i.e. train, LRT, bus) being made today. Over 13 years, the Ontario government is spending almost $65 billion and maybe $21 billion more on High Speed Rail if a $15 million EA is approved.
  • redirect a percentage of the $32 billion allocated for highways to road pricing technology to manage demand on existing roadways. Savings could be reallocated to transit and cycling.
  • improve intercity and urban transit uptake through integrated planning, smart land use and good governance. 
2) There will be many challenges related to Hyperloop planning/environmental assessments/consultation, including: 
  • corridor selection/alignment (traversing existing roads, railways, utilities, green space/waterways)
  • rural/urban land impacts and public opposition to new infrastructure and stations (farm fragmentation, urban infill); 
  • financing and funding (land purchases/expropriation and effect pricing of fares will have on passenger uptake).
3) Government responsiveness to transportation technology innovations in general and safety issues specifically has always been slow (e.g. US air bag technology was patented in the early 1950’s but was not made mandatory in all vehicles until the late 1990's). It will take years for the upper levels of government to provide safety approvals for a Hyperloop system that puts people in a pod travelling at 1,000 km/hour (20% faster than a typical aircraft). Approvals will be even slower where the Hyperloop is operating in a tunnel since emergency access points will have to be provided every few kilometers.*

4) Understanding demographics/driving trends/demand for new technologies (especially as they relate to differences between millennials and baby boomers).

* With thanks to Dr. Brendon Hemily for his input on Hyperloop tunnelling and safety issues.