Exclusive: Human rides on hyperloop 'not far away' says Virgin Hyperloop CEO

Virgin Hyperloop One CEO Jay Walder says the price of a ticket will be comparable to urban rail systems
From a passenger’s perspective, riding in a hyperloop pod will be roughly comparable to riding on a smooth, turbulence-free passenger flight.

The futuristic hyperloop system will begin testing with and transporting human beings “sooner than you think”, according to Virgin Hyperloop One CEO Jay Walder.

“Obviously, we know that this is the question that’s on everybody’s tongue,” Walder said in an exclusive interview with Arabian Business. “It’s not far away.”

Walder, however, declined to give a more specific timeline for the first human testing of the system.

Late last week, the government of the Indian state of Maharashtra officially deemed hyperloop a public infrastructure project, setting it up to be the first hyperloop project in the world.

Maharashtra also approved a DP World-Virgin Hyperloop One consortium as the original project proponent (OPP) for the project that will cut down the travel time between Mumbai and Pune to less than 35 minutes, compared to the current 3.5 hours plus.

In the interview, Walder said that the state’s recognition of hyperloop, alongside conventional modes of transport, is as an important step that shows that the technology is rapidly becoming a viable reality.

“[This puts it] on par and equivalent to ‘traditional’ infrastructure, like air, rail, cars and boats. All the things we’ve had for 100 years,” Walder said. “It goes to the point of it’s here and it’s now.”

The hyperloop experience

In his remarks, Walder said that from a passenger’s perspective, riding in a hyperloop pod will be roughly comparable to riding on a smooth, turbulence-free passenger flight, although much more convenient with none of the hassles of going through an airport.

“It’s effectively [going to be moving] at the speed of an airplane, completely smooth, with no turbulence taking place. If you were holding a cup of coffee at 1,000 km per hour, you should be able to drink that cup,” Walder explained. “You’ll take a seat and be going point to point, and it will be perfectly smooth.”

Additionally, Walder – the former CEO of Hong Kong transit company MTR Corporation and New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority – said that the ticket prices are likely to be similar to rail tickets in major urban areas around the world.

“We look at it as being comparable to a train ticket, rather than comparable to the cost of a plane ticket,” he said. “We are absolutely seeing this as mass transportation. Our goal is to be used by millions and millions of people.”

On the Mumbai-Pune route alone, Virgin Hyperloop One expects to be able to support 200 million passengers annually, up from 75 million passenger journeys today and an anticipated 130 million by 2026.

Of the various companies developing hyperloop technology, Virgin Hyperloop One is the only one to have constructed a full-scale test track and to have completed hundreds of test runs.

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