SAN ANTONIO – The Alamo Regional Mobility Authority is soliciting proposals for a potential transportation project between San Antonio International Airport and downtown. San Antonio Express News reports that The Boring Company, owned by Elon Musk, is interested in bringing such a plan into reality.
“By going out to the private sector, it opens up the opportunities for what might be possible,” said Greg Griffin, program leader and assistant professor in Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Texas at San Antonio. “And whether that leads to a specific project or not, it certainly opens up people’s imaginations and conversations about what an appropriate solution is for San Antonio.”
The company has been working for years to eventually bring high speed or hyperloop travel to several markets. The Clark County Commissioners in Nevada approved a major expansion of a loop project in the Las Vegas region. An initial loop underneath the Las Vegas Convention Center opened earlier this year.
A true hyperloop, with fully autonomous and high-speed travel, may be years in the future. The current offering allows passengers to be driven in Teslas to their destination.
The convention center loop serves three stations and is equipped to handle 4,400 passengers per hour. The eventual Vegas loop projects would handle 57,000 passengers per hour with 51 stations.
“I’m not sure that anybody’s discussing this possibility as like a congestion mitigation solution,” Griffin said. “Whether or not the future of a Tesla and tunnel type project is a larger vehicle that’s more like a transit capacity with more than 10 people, maybe up to 40 or 50 people like a typical bus, would be interesting versus a four to five-person capacity that you see in a car right now.”
Besides capacity, Griffin said there are other questions to consider, including costs and environmental impacts.
“We’ve got the Edwards Aquifer to think about. We have rock conditions that are very different from where, let’s just say the ‘Teslas and tunnels’ project like at the Las Vegas Convention Center has already been implemented,” he said. “So we may have some context here that could be more complicated.”
There’s also the issue of getting to the loop stations. That’s where potential transit partnerships may come in.
VIA President and CEO Jeff Arndt is keeping an eye on the potential of the technology as it evolves.
“Hyperloop technology is essentially and most effectively deployed when you’re traveling over relatively long distance,” Arndt said. “A hyperloop between here and Austin with maybe a stop in New Braunfels and San Marcos, let’s just say, for example, that’s the kind of project that could make sense.”
The proposals are due to the Alamo RMA by Dec. 1, and a finalist is expected to be announced in February.
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