By: Mike Maizel

Plans for a Hyperloop between New York and Washington DC received a shot in the arm this week when, according to Elon Musk, he received verbal approval to build the superfast tunnel system.

The underground track would travel from NY to DC in just 29 minutes though it will also include stops in Philadelphia and Baltimore. Currently it takes about 4-plus hours by car or just under 3 hours by train.

This would significantly speed up travel and could allow for daily commutes shorter than sitting in Baltimore to DC traffic during rush hour.

Now to clarify, this is simply verbal approval, albeit from the federal government, and doesn’t actually mean they can start digging massive tunnels. But it does kick open the door for real planning and approval.

“Verbal approval was at Federal level,” Musk stated in a tweet. “Still a lot of work before formal, written approval, but this opens door for state & city discussions.”

The Tesla CEO didn’t offer too much more. We don’t know who approved it, how far off we are from actually seeing lightning-fast tunnels in DC, let alone any city.

The concept for the Hyperloop was first suggested in a white paper that Musk drew up in 2013. He laid out the idea for pods that would shoot through a tube gaining speeds of up to 700 MPH. In other words, about the speed of a plane.

He open-sourced the idea allowing companies like Hyperloop One to bring their innovations to the table.

“With Hyperloop One, passengers and cargo are loaded into a pod and accelerate gradually via electric propulsion through a low-pressure tube,” the company explains in a press release. “The pod quickly lifts above the track using magnetic levitation and glides at airline speeds for long distances due to ultra-low aerodynamic drag.”

Now they didn’t list the DC-NY route back in April when they announced routes like Miami-Orlando, Los Angeles-San Diego and Seattle-Portland. It’s assumed though that they would be the ones to handle this new route. Though there are other vyings for the job.

This-month tests by Hyperloop One in the Nevada desert successfully sent a pod 70 MPH for 5.3 seconds. That was their first successful test. So it seems the runway to get these systems up and running is a bit long.

In Musk’s most recent tweet he lets us little people know what we can do to help make it happen, “If you want this to happen fast, please let your local & federal elected representatives know. Makes a big difference if they hear from you.”

When do you think we’ll see the first Hyperloop up and running? Let us know your guesses and thoughts in the comments below.


Mike Maizel is a regular tech beat reporter and producer for NewsWatch. He loves all things tech, and can regularly be found outdoors in the mountains of Colorado.