Hyperloop through San Antonio?

DFW-area transportation council floats idea of Fort Worth-to-Laredo corridor

SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio is among the cities that one Texas planning council is considering for connections to a high-speed corridor, possibly using hyperloop technology.

The Regional Transportation Council announced Wednesday that it would be considering the high-tech, hyperloop form of technology for use in two potential high-speed corridors.

The first would be between Fort Worth, Arlington and Dallas. The second would go from Fort Worth down to Laredo and would include Waco, Temple-Killeen, Austin and San Antonio along the way.

"It's a potential game changer that we should at least consider to see if there's interest, and that's what we're trying to do," said Michael Morris, the director of transportation for the North Central Texas Council of Governments.

Hyperloop technology uses magnetic levitation as vehicles zip through a depressurized tube at hundreds of miles per hour, changing hourslong trips on the highway into minuteslong rides.

"We're able to take speeds that often are only associated with aviation and bring it down here to Earth," said Dan Katz, the director of North American Projects for Virgin Hyperloop One.

Katz said Texas is "kind of a perfect place for the hyperloop," with its large, spread-out cities. That may be the case geographically, but the question now is whether cities and their residents agree.

According to a news release, the Regional Transportation Council has "provided funding and has obtained funding commitments to undertake a conceptual feasibility study" for the proposed Fort Worth-to-Laredo corridor.

Bexar County Commissioner Kevin Wolff is the chairman of the Alamo Area Metropolitan Planning Organization's Transportation Policy Board. He said it's hard to say if the organization's 21 members will want to chip in for a feasibility study of the proposed corridor.

"They haven't obtained a commitment from us as of yet," he said. "But I have no doubt they'll be coming and knocking on the door in the not-too-distant future."

Wolff said he's excited by possible new transportation technologies but also said, "The realist in me understands that these things take time and they take money, and that's what it really comes down to."

Wolff said he does not see the Alamo Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, or any other metropolitan planning organization getting to the point of setting aside real dollars on a hyperloop project for at least a few more years.

About the Author:

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.