Proponents of Hyperloop have repeatedly suggested that their transportation technology will create new “mega-regions,” essentially reshaping the scope of cities. Multiple startups are now striving to defy critics and connect different dots on maps. But in the process they face formidable barriers and uncertain sociological outcomes.
Most recently, Richard Branson made a sizable investment in Hyperloop One, causing it to be rebranded as Virgin Hyperloop One. His investment helps legitimize the radical technology. This latest round of capital could allow the world to experience a new and distinctive transportation system. But will it transform cities in the ways being promised?
The idea for Hyperloop was first popularized in 2013, when Elon Musk published a white paper (PDF). Musk outlined a new method for expedited travel, characterizing it as “the right solution for the specific case of high traffic city pairs that are less than about 1500 km or 900 miles apart.” This …