Hyperloop illustration. Image Credit: SpaceX

First Full-Scale Urban Hyperloop System Coming To California — 5-Mile Stretch In Central Valley Planned

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Whatever your opinion on the technology may be, it looks as though the proposed Hyperloop transportation system previously championed by Elon Musk is now actually going somewhere, based on a recent press statement.

According to the statement, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies has come to agreement with the developers of a “sustainable 21st century town” being developed in California’s Central Valley to develop and install a Hyperloop system along a 5-mile stretch of the town running by the Interstate 5 freeway.

Hyperloop illustration. Image Credit: SpaceX

This installation will market the first time that a hyperloop system has been installed in an urban area for general use.

“With Quay Valley, we’re creating a community built on economical, environmental and social sustainability, and part of this is seeking to reduce car dependency,” stated Quay Hays, CEO of GROW Holdings, Inc (Green Renewable Organic & Water), the master developer of Quay Valley. “For these reasons, the Hyperloop is the ideal clean community transit system for Quay Valley.”

Fair enough, I suppose, though there are obviously far cheaper and completely proven approaches to doing so — light rail systems and/or trams, in particular, I’m quite fond of.

“Our agreement with Quay Valley is a major milestone in the advancement of the Hyperloop project,” noted Hyperloop Transportation Technologies CEO Dirk Ahlborn. “This installation will allow us to demonstrate all systems on a full scale and immediately begin generating revenues for our shareholders through actual operations.”

Here are some details, straight from the press statement:

The Quay Valley Hyperloop track will be built using HTT’s tube, capsule, and station models. It will be instrumental in optimizing passenger system needs — such as loading, departure and safety considerations — to ensure Hyperloop is ready for larger-scale operation. Running speed will be reduced on the shortened track from Hyperloop’s full potential.

In the past two years, JumpStartFund assembled a team of nearly 200 core team professionals who have worked to bring the Hyperloop to reality by completing extensive technological and financial feasibility studies. On February 13, 2015, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies announced the company was moving towards a public offering near the end of 2015. The offering is planned to be an auction with the goal of raising $100 million.


With construction at the site — in Quay Valley, California — now set to begin in 2016, I suppose that we’ll find out soon enough what this technology actually looks like when put into practice in real-world settings, presuming endless delays don’t drag this thing out for a long time, as is prone to happen with such large and new projects — ala NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, which is running more than a decade late and vastly over the original budget (more than 17-fold).

Perhaps I’m wrong, but when I hear about massive, arguably vanity-based projects going well overboard in money and resource use, I can’t help but think about those massive stone heads on Easter Island — or in the ruins of the Olmec Civilization, along with their pyramids. Think they ran way “over budget” and behind schedule? Or is it something with the systems of today that leads to this pattern?

Of course, closer to home you can also bring up the repeated delays of one of Elon Musk’s other projects — the electric Model X SUV. Presuming all goes well, though, this first Hyperloop system will be in place in a few years in Quay Valley and give us some real insight into the potential commercial applicability of the technology.

As an aside, the Quay Valley development is aiming to be powered 100% by solar energy infrastructure.

For more information on the Hyperloop system/technology, see:

Elon Musk CNBC Interview About Being a Disruptor

Hyperloop Company Created

Elon Musk Finally Reveals His Vision For An 800 MPH Hyperloop

Image Credit: Hyperloop Transportation Technologies

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James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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50 thoughts on “First Full-Scale Urban Hyperloop System Coming To California — 5-Mile Stretch In Central Valley Planned

  • Okay, just being curious. Is this a totally separate project from the one that Musk has said that he will do in Texas in cooperation with the university as a test facility of the Hyperloop?
    Is this one being done because of Musk making the idea of the Hyperloop free to be used?
    Will the test facility in Texas be done soon enough to advise the development of this project?
    What has been proposed with the Hyperloop seems to be very practical for mass transit transportation and even some cargo transport (when not being used for passengers) that could be much more efficient than our current light rail system.
    But once again we are given an announcement of a project without any reference to available information on similarly sourced project.

    • I was wondering the same thing. And for reference Musk said he *may* build the test loop in Texas, the implication being they would need to stop blocking direct sales for him to do so… as the the vote for the legislation hasn’t been cast yet perhaps this is something separate?

      • It has been a while since seeing the video interview with Musk after his meeting with the Texas transportation people, but I don’t recall any conditional aspect to going ahead with this project.
        I will have to go see if I can find it again, but it seemed that this was a fairly definite intention to do a proof of concept and provide a site for testing different designs for the ‘ pods’
        With all of the different pies that he has a finger in though, maybe it just worked out that there wasn’t time or money enough to carry through.

        • I can recommend this channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/everyelonmuskvideo
          They are trying to collect every video with Elon 🙂

          edit: why the heck is disqus embedding a video if I post the channel link? Well, just open the video and visit the channel yourself…

          • Thanks Philip, will definitely have to save that one.
            Thanks too for getting me back for another look at the comments, looks like people are getting stirred up over not understanding just how inexpensive a source of long distance transportation the Hyperloop could be.
            Makes it quite obvious how lacking in basic STEM education the general populace has become.

  • What about PRT (personal rapid transit) system? Small that it can get to within 1 mile of users and provide the point-to-point non-stop solution.

  • “Fair enough, I suppose, though there are obviously far cheaper and completely proven approaches to doing so — light rail systems and/or trams, in particular, I’m quite fond of.”

    This project obviously isn’t about providing transit. It’s about proving revolutionary technology. You can’t crap on this project without crapping all over the maniacally expensive California high speed rail project which also happens to be one of the slowest modern rail systems.

    • While there is the variability of property acquisition and right of way costs which also apply with light rail, the engineering spec sheets that I saw put the straight out construction costs as being lower when taking into account that it will be able to generate all of its own power plus a surplus. These are usage comparisons including maintenance and ‘fuel’ for any time period over ten to fifteen years, of course there is a big upfront investment, and no one has tried building a Hyperloop yet. It should work out to be less expensive and faster than any light rail system in just forecasting the numbers though.

  • I wish ’em luck, but will not hold my breath waiting for the ribbon-cutting ceremony…

  • The hyper-marketing behind the hyperloop does one thing very well. It takes investment dollars away from public transportation modification and expansion. It’s the hydrogen car. There are no stops between points A and B with the system. For those who need to get from LA to SF quickly there’s already a technology out there, it’s called a private jet. Or maybe a battery powered prop plane of the future.

    • Yeah because everyone can afford their own private jet…

      • The hyperloop won’t be a mass transportation system to get folks from LA to SF. It’s a straight run system Bank tellers know this. It will cost lots of money on a person mile basis. Money that could be better used for improving mass transportation. That’s how emissions are reduce.

        Here’s the premise and conceptual design statement:

        This thing is a massive public works project for not that much mass.

        • Michael, you don’t know what you’re talking about.

          • Bob, if your role here on cleantechnica is to manage the comments section and provide further explanation, then do that. From my perspective you’re simply here to control the message – like flack at a sales meeting. I mean it wasn’t too long ago you were attacking me for pointing out the environmental issues and concerns of shale oil and gas.

            How would the hyperloop not impact needed funding for mass transportation by drawing the few dollars necessary away? The hyperloop is extremely land intensive and land in California is never just given away.

          • Of course the hyperloop, if it proves out, would impact funding for other mass transportation. As I posted a earlier –

            “If the hyperloop proves out then it will be a viable alternative to expanding airports, adding additional highway lanes, or building high speed rail. All of which would involve public money.”


            “The hyperloop will only take investment dollars away from other public transportation systems if it proves to be superior to them.”

          • I’m going to have to question your analysis there, Bob.

            We’re not talking about John Henry versus the steam hammer here; and may the best one win kind of competition. Mass transportation requires lots and lots of funding. Funding that needs to get set aside for decades from early conceptualization to final implementation. And the funding is only so much. I’d say make sure Paypal, Google, Apple, and pretty much all of Silicon Valley should be forced to pay the full amount of fed and state taxes – instead of dodging with overseas post office boxes – to simply upgrade and expand upon existing mass transportation – is a better idea than the hyperloop. By the time the hyperloop would replace city to city air travel – climate change will become frightfully irreversible. We need quick solutions. Not tube dreams.

          • You are free to question my analysis, Michael.

            But i’m not sure why you think we should not investigate the hyperloop idea to see if it is superior to air flight and high speed rail. And if it proves superior why we should not build it but spend our money on lower quality alternatives.

            Upgrading air travel doesn’t help us fight climate change. We have no affordable source for green fuel.

            All of your “post office boxes” stuff has nothing to do with the technology.

          • Yes it does. Technology costs money. Developing technology comes chiefly from government. No Apple didn’t go from zero to an iphone without massive government funding to get them there. The US is not funding enough for energy and environmental research. Even the billionaires Bill Gates et al thinks this. The amount of money necessary is staggering, even to billionaires.


          • Airport expansion would be done with public money. Building fueling alternatives for planes would likely eat up public money.

            Building high speed rail would use public money.

            Expanding the number of highway lanes would use public money.

            In this case developing the hyperloop seems to be coming from private money. Past the development stage there will likely be public money involved.

            Why are you so concerned about spending on the hyperloop but not on air, rail and highway travel? Perhaps you haven’t absorbed the “cheap to ride” part and think this is something for only the rich to ride?

          • Did you read or skim the spacex conceptual plan for the hyperloop? I’ll link it again:


            Either private sector (via paying less in taxes) has billions to throw at this or the land necessary is just given away.


            And Gov. Brown’s proposal:


          • I’m having trouble following your thinking Michael.

            Your position is that if the hyperloop costs less per mile to build than high speed rail, uses less energy per passenger mile, and tickets cost less we should not build it. But instead spend our money on high speed rail?

            Would you please clear that up for me?

        • So you’re saying that the hyperloop will be as expensive as a private jet? Come on…
          The hyperloop is testing project that will help to delevop better transportation technology for the future. How you can compare a test track in such an early stage to proven technology is beyond me.

          • No, I’m saying the folks who will be traveling most on the hyperloop are those being flown in private jets and others of course. This isn’t going to bring the overall emissions down. It may speed up travel. For a few. I’d say just spend money on improving train travel and video conferencing between the LA and SF office.

          • Michael, you clearly are poorly informed when it comes to the hyperloop. Projected prices for a LA to SF ride are around $30. That’s cheaper than Greyhound.

            The hyperloop would be run on 100% electricity. Plans are for the system to generate as much electricity as it uses. We have no plans to get our air flight to carbon neutral. The system will use less energy than a train.

          • Yes, and it could be taken by someone who is pinching pennies and needs to visit family a few hundred miles away.

            “The initial idea for Hyperloop was to carry passengers to and from Los Angeles and San Francisco. However, now, Ahlborn is thinking bigger: covering the entire U.S. with Hyperloop transportation. Hyperloop’s end-game sees the country covered in a network of Hyperloop transportation options, carrying passengers across the U.S.

            Ahlborn realizes that building this dream is a challenge, but it’s not stopping him.

            “When I talk to people they look at me and say, ‘Oh, you’re building a spaceship,’ “says Ahlborn. “The technical issues are not the problem. … That is something we’ve already defined. We’ve found solutions to all of the problems. There are technologies out there.”

            Ahlborn’s document also points out that because the Hyperloop’s construction costs are so low, that also translates into lower ticket prices for consumers. This puts the Hyperloop in direct competition with the airline industry, which will probably push back against the train’s concept.”


          • We need people to think smaller. Like have tire pressure check points, mandatory oil changes, and bring down the the speed limit to 65 mpg. (and other things – these were examples) There’s too much big idea work going on while overall emissions continue. This curve has to bend down or clean technology is a waste:

          • Strange claim, Michael.

            Keeping tires inflated won’t stop the burning of petroleum for transportation. But EVs will.

            IMHO we need to think cleaner. Smaller helps but we need to get to the root causes, using fossil fuels when we could be using renewable energy.

          • Better than EVs for the next 10 years. More emissions will be reduced by improving efficiency of the existing fleet MPG over this period of time, then technology being deployed slowly year after year. Musk may have his battery factory up and built in five years, but the residents of Nevada will be so undereducated, they won’t be smart enough to get a job allowing them to afford an EV.

          • Each EV that hits the road eliminates one car’s worth of oil use.

            Moving from a 25 MPG to a 35 MPG ICEV lower oil use by 40%.

            ” the residents of Nevada will be so undereducated, they won’t be smart enough to get a job allowing them to afford an EV.”

            Come on Michael. You’re a better person than that.

          • The present vehicle fleet in the US alone is 250 million cars and trucks. If ever car and truck had proper air pressure – that would be a roughly 1 mpg in less fuel burned. We’re not talking clean technology science here. Pretty standard stuff. Not stuff on cleantechnica’s line sheet, but true environmental and energy stuff. If every state set a speed limit to 65 – an even better reduction in emissions. Technology won’t solve the problem alone. It hasn’t yet – without government’s help.

          • Police/authorities can’t keep up with criminals and speeding already and you want them to check tire pressure or oil changes? Are you kidding?
            And a flat out 65 mph, really? There is a better chance for higher fuel taxes than this.

            I don’t know how old you are, but your view onto what needs to be done and what can be done sounds a bit naive.. personally I’m pretty sure the world will wind up with 3-4 deg C higher temps on average by 2100 and a lot of damage to the environment until the message got through to every single dude who has responsibility for some tiny piece of this mess of a civilization.

          • I’m 52 and have worked in the environmental business for 30 years. Stuff like pollution control, landfills, groundwater remediation, process engineering, , etc. We could pay hobos and homeless people to work at tire pressure check stations. And maybe anonymous blog commenters. It’s probably best you remain anonymous. No need for extra policemen and women.

            If you’re assuming we’ll reach 3 to 4 degrees warming by 2100, why even bother with technical solutions? Cleantechnica seems to be a diversion. Non technical political solutions may be just as good, no? Actually, when Ford (or Nixon or Carter) applied 55 mph countrywide, it did us wonders. Here’s another look at reducing fuel usage around 2008:


            “According to DOE’s 2008 estimate, a national speed limit of 55 mph could yield possible savings of 175,000 to 275,000 barrels of oil per day.”

          • Let’s put some numbers to the 55 mph idea:

            225,000 barrels per day at 20 gallons of gasoline in 1 barrel of crude oil = 4,500,000 gallons per day or 1.643 billion gallons per year.

            Assume a car drives 12,000 miles per year and gets on average 25 miles per gallon: 480 gallons (say 500 gallons)

            That’s 1.642 billion gallons / 500 gallons per car or 3.286 million cars.

            How long will it take Tesla to build 3.286 million cars? Probably longer than it will take to declare 55 mpg by executive order.

          • Michael, there are lots of things that could be done were the world run by an all powerful dictator. But it isn’t. There are political realities.
            Any politician who pushed a 65 or 55 mile speed limit would be an ex-politician.

            It is extremely hard to make changes at the individual level. Where we stand the best chance is to make changes at the industrial level. And there we are being greatly assisted by falling renewable energy and battery prices along with improvements in efficiency.

            We have to find ways to lower carbon outputs while requiring no, or minimal, lifestyle changes for individuals.

          • Here’s the political situation here in the US in general and Illinois specifically. The new governor is putting an end to state grants and reimbursements on renewables.


            This is what’s happening, even in a blue state. States throughout the country are doing this. Bypassing or ignoring environmental policy is not a bright idea. Environmental ranges from restaurant employees washing their hands after going to the bathroom to climate change investigation to mitigating climate change. Renewables technologies, like wind and solar, are just tools like a clarifier and digester are tools for water treatment. Technology comes and goes. Human health and the environment remains the topic.

            I was being a little over-the-top by using the most mundane examples I could think of, i.e. tire pressure, driving 55 mph. However, those lifestyle choices are effective, now, rather than maybe in the future – if the technology catches up and the political environment is supportive. Your argument, saying that technology will allow for people to be ignorant of environmental issues such as climate change is a dying argument. This is called environmental capitalism. It was pushed by many think tanks and nonprofits, The Breakthrough Institute, for example. There are many others. The reality is, environmental policy matters.

            For example, here’s an interesting academic study on perovskite for solar PV:

            “Are Glowing Reports Of New Solar Cell Material Mostly Hype?”


            Every overhyped renewables research topic, that turns out to be a dud, results in cuts in funding and less investment.

          • Michael, if you think the Congress of the United States is going to mandate 55 MPH, checking tire pressures weekly, using cloth shopping bags, well, that isn’t happening. Even a Democratic controlled Congress isn’t going to pass regulations like that.

            Perhaps 20, 40 years later on when people are really feeling the effects of climate change. But not now.

            Look at all the people who smoke, are overweight, don’t exercise, don’t continue their education in order to improve their incomes, etc.

            Our only hope is “environmental capitalism”. Solar and wind are beginning to kill coal. EVs should soon be killing ICEVs.

            Time to kill?

            Most of our coal plants are old, thirty years or older. The average lifespan of a US coal plant is 42 years. Those worn out plants will need to be replaced with something. A combination of wind, solar and NG is the least expensive alternative. Over the next few years we should see storage replacing some of the NG as storage prices drop.

            Our auto fleet turnover rate is roughly once per 15 years. That means that we will replace our current fleet of vehicles about 2x between now and 2050. As time goes along and EV prices drop to that of same-model ICEVs the replacement vehicles will be powered by electricity, not oil.

            Over the coming 35 years most home heating/cooling systems will need at least one replacement. Much more efficient heat pumps are likely to be the replacement.

            What individuals will do is make purchase decisions that will save them money. They will buy EVs when the upfront cost is similar. They will pick a high efficiency heat pump when it costs less than a new furnace and costs them a lot less to operate.

          • I forgot you don’t live in the US. I think Poland. That’s a slavic country, no?

            Coal is being reduced in use for elec gen due to natural gas exploitation without regulation. That was a policy decision under Bush/Cheney to expressly bypass environmental laws. It’s starting to catch up.

            Renewables deployment was a policy decision under Obama. Renewables got its foot in the door under Bush and went full throttle under the stimulus of 2009. Followed by additional presidential executive orders, such as emissions controls on power plants and energy technology funding, i.e. Tesla.

            Without the democrats on the left, keeping environmental protection and climate change an important issue here and around the world (i.e. Obama in China and India) there would not be a renewables industry.

            Environmental capitalism will join communism in the ashbin of ism’s.

          • I live so far east in Europe we call it California.

            “Coal is being reduced in use for elec gen due to natural gas exploitation without regulation”

            Economics. Environmental capitalism. Unintentional, but effective.

            Next, storage is starting to eat into NG use. More environmental capitalism.

          • I think we’re arguing for the sake of arguing and it’s fun. Environmental capitalism assumes regulations aren’t necessary to bring order and cleanliness to the world. And corporations will do the right thing. Basically it helps sell energy consulting services more than anything else. Here’s sort of the origins of the environmental capitalism movement:


            The author is Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute. He gave a talk to a bunch of us chemical engineers before the book came out. Lovins was pushing the hydrogen economy back then. That’s pretty much why the Bush administration jumped on it. Also, to keep technology deployment so far into the future, we would be stuck on oil for at least two generations. Lovins has kind of walked back from hydrogen. If was fun to hear a bunch of old refinery engineers explain what’s involved in handling hydrogen safely.

          • If environmental capitalism includes no regulations then I suspect EC alone won’t save us. We need some push on the part of the government as well.
            But that is operation at the industrial level, not the individual level. Adding a carbon price is not an individual action but an institutional action.

    • The hyperloop will only take investment dollars away from other public transportation systems if it proves to be superior to them.

      The hyperloop is not a “take me to the next block” technology. It’s a “take me a long distance in a hurry” technology. It could be a way to greatly reduce air travel, thus reducing our use of fossil fuels (or the need to generate large amounts of renewable liquid fuels).

      Some of the cost estimates for the hyperloop is that travel should be inexpensive.

      • I’d like to see those cost estimates. This seems like another strand of spaghetti being thrown by Musk against the wall to see if it sticks. The guy is 90 percent marketing and 10 percent technical. The hyper loop isn’t going to cut air travel to stop climate change in time – at all. There’s a reason why pneumatic tubes were tried and failed to electric lines in New York City.

        • Michael, Elon is not generating the numbers. There are multiple teams, totally unconnected to Musk, that are doing the hyperloop development. Elon gave the idea away.

          I’m not sure how you derive your 90% marketing and 10% technical numbers. He has produced a ground-shaking EV and his rocket company just put a couple of satellites into orbit yesterday.

          You’re sounding like you had sour grapes for breakfast.

          • Sour grapes of not. This isn’t a private sector libertarian fever dream project funded by bootstraps and pluck. It will cost money. Money from California and the feds. Money that will be taken away from other programs, given the republican and libertarian controlled congress.

            Musk should focus on something. Everything so far has required governmental funding or government as a buyer. This is just another example.

            The issue is climate change. Something rarely discussed on cleantechnica, besides in a sales pitch.

          • As far as I know the initial research and prototype work is being done with private money.

            If the hyperloop proves out then it will be a viable alternative to expanding airports, adding additional highway lanes, or building high speed rail. All of which would involve public money.

            Why should Elon focus? It looks to me as if he’s doing a very good job on taking care of business. The Tesla S and SpaceX rockets are doing just fine. He gave away the hyperloop work because he felt he had enough on his plate.

            I suspect you missed the purpose of Cleantechnica. Climate change is a given. This site is purposed to informing people about promising technologies that will let us minimize climate change.

          • “Elon gave the idea”. Hmm, to be fair, concepts of fast travel in depressurized tubes (“wingless plane”, vactrain) have been around at least since the 70s.

            The main ingredient missing all along was funding.

          • If not longer.

            Elon worked up a version. Put it into public domaine. ’nuff said?

  • Hyperloop is not urban, 5 miles is a carnival ride.

  • Here’s an illustration of what the hyperloop test track might look like.

    It shows how pods could come off the mainline and stop at a terminal without slowing the mainline.

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