Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Why Dubai -- the inevitable home of the hyperloop

This is a point that has come up in conversation and correspondence frequently but I don't know if I've ever made it in the blog. The odds of ever seeing a full scale hyperloop remain slim, at least until there are major breakthroughs that greatly reduce the cost of constructing, maintaining and protecting a massive maglev vactrain system, but if we do see one, my money has always been on Dubai.

Virgin Hyperloop One has raised $172 million in new funding to bring its futuristic transportation dreams to life, according to new filings with the United States government. At least $90 million has come from existing investor DP World, a major Dubai port operator, The Verge has learned.
The hyperloop startup is also seeking up to $224 million in this equity sale, according to the filing. Eighty investors have contributed to the round, and specific investors weren’t named. The funding amount was disclosed in a new filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday, which was first reported by Crunchbase News.
 First off, they have the cash. The "hyperloop" (see point 1) was always a bit like a Mars colony in that the question was never "can we do it?" but rather "can we afford to do it?" The misinformation (and in some cases, disinformation) around the proposal has always been primarily about cost. Dubai can afford a hundred or so miles of track.
 More importantly, they have a reason to build it. Not for transportation, of course -- there's no way to make those numbers work -- but for tourism. The country's playground-of-the-rich standing brings in a tremendous amount of money. Whatever its other issues, the "hyperloop" has the makings of a first rate attraction.
 The fit isn't  just economic. This is the land of indoor ski resorts and half-mile tall buildings. A "hyperloop" wouldn't even stand out.

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