Transportation and infrastructure problems in America have become a continuous problem these days. Local governments continue to invest in upgrading the roads and highways, but never quite seem to catch up to the fast-growing populations. By the time the road improvements are completed, which can take years, the congestion problem has outgrown the improvements. One proposed solution trending these days is use of high speed transportation systems which claim to transport people hundreds of miles in minutes as well as being a sustainable design solution.
An ultra-fast “Hyperloop” train designed by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors and Space X, has gained traction in California for further testing. He is proposing a high-speed transportation system that could shuttle people between Los Angeles and San Francisco in only 30 minutes. This Hyperloop would transport passengers in floating pods inside low-pressure tubes at speeds of more than 750 mph by the use of magnets for propulsion and relying on compressed air for lift. Testing is ongoing and there are concerns that the track precision and fragile nature of the tubes are challenging to maintain, especially in an earthquake prone state as California. If these hurdles can be overcome, than the Hyperloop has the potential to be a faster, cheaper and more energy efficient form of travel than planes, trains or buses its proponents say.
Another high-speed transportation system is being proposed in Texas bridging the cities Dallas with Houston for what they call “Super Commuters.” People that commute long distances between different cities, usually by air. The private company, Texas Central Partners, LLC has being working with local and state jurisdictions as well as local land owners to allow this high speed rail system to be constructed. They are projecting a travel time of less than 90 minutes with shorter departure windows of every 30 minutes during peak periods each day. They are claiming the high-speed train consumes 1/8th less energy per seat and expends 1/12th carbon dioxide than a Boeing B777-200.
However, skeptics are not yet convinced that high-speed rail systems in general are the answer to our transportation woes. The price tag for these systems can be very high and the maintenance even more. Safety will always be a concern especially when traveling at speeds up to 200 mph. Even if high-speed railways are utilized, some believe that this solution is not going to really address the big problems with our congested highways and airways.
Travel congestion is not going away anytime soon and will need to be continuously scrutinized and improved upon. Road and travel routes are aspects that influence architecture and urban planning tremendously. More and more future concepts are being proposed that would greatly reduce the need of the car in congested urban areas. While high-speed railway systems are not necessary the complete solution, they are another innovative tool that can strategically lessen the burden that affects us all.