Tube Travel: Tech Company Envisions 23-Minute DC-to-NYC Trips

A concept first proposed by Elon Musk would transport people at more than 700 mph

A 23-minute commute between D.C. and New York could soon be a reality, according to the technology company Hyperloop One.

Executives from the California tech company Hyperloop One said at an event Thursday at the Newseum in Washington that they plan to connect 80 percent of the country via electromagnetic tubes, allowing for high-speed travel.

The concept was first proposed in 2013 by Elon Musk, the founder of the electric car company Tesla and the private spacecraft company SpaceX.

Hyperloop One co-founder Shervin Pishevar said the company plans to be able to move people and cargo ultra quickly.

"Connecting the entire nation within 5 hours of each other, cities become metro stops," he said. 

Passengers traveling via tube would board magnetically levitating pods moved by electric propulsion. Hyperloop One is aiming for pods to travel more than 700 mph, making any cross-country trip possible within 5 hours.

Hyperloop One recently finished building a 1,640-foot-long test tube in the desert outside Las Vegas. 

Former D.C. Department of Transportation head Gabe Klein said he thinks it will actually happen. 

"I think it's going to become a reality," he said. "I think it may take longer than people think to get through all the right-of-way clearances and the sort of government regulations. But I think we are in for a sea change in terms of long-haul transportation." 

On Thursday, Hyperloop One revealed the 11 finalists of its Global Challenge, which called for groups to submit proposals for Hyperloop systems in their region. The longest proposed route spans four states, from Cheyenne, Wyoming to Houston, Texas.

More than 83 million people could benefit from a Hyperloop route between D.C and New York City, the company said.

The company’s goal is to begin moving cargo by 2020 and passengers by 2021.

Musk sparked a flurry of speculation in D.C. in February when he tweeted a photo of a tunnel he said was in D.C. after speaking about tunnels to ease traffic.

A DC Water spokesman said Musk toured a D.C. sewer tunnel, apparently doing research.

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