LOS ANGELES — Imagine paying $20 and sitting down inside a Space Age capsule in Los Angeles. About half an hour later, you’re in sight of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Los Angeles billionaire Elon Musk, the man who made electric vehicles sexy, revolutionized the online payment business and transformed spaceflight missions for NASA, is now taking on California’s public transportation system.
On Monday, to international fanfare, Musk unveiled the design of his Hyperloop, a $6-billion high-speed transit system powered by solar energy. The line would travel along interstates 5 and 580 at speeds of up to 760 miles per hour and have the feel of an airliner, Musk said. Capsules would hold 28 people each.
California hasn’t asked for his help, and Musk’s dream exists only on paper.
But the state is in the middle of trying to build its own bullet train, a $68-billion project that has grown in cost and fallen behind schedule. Musk, 42, contends his system is superior — and cheaper — and that he wanted to get it into the public discussion before the state wastes more time and money on what he sees as a failed system.
“How could it be that the home of Silicon Valley and JPL … would build a bullet train that is both one of the most expensive per mile and one of the slowest in the world?” he said. “It would be great to have an alternative to flying or driving, but obviously only if it is actually better than flying or driving.”
Musk said the answer is the Hyperloop. He might first build a prototype to prove the concept, but the plan has been published as an open-source document — ready for anyone to pick up the idea and improve it.
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