Virgin Hyperloop and several other companies are working on hyperloop transportation technology that will zip vehicles between cities inside vacuum tubes at speeds of up to 700 miles per hour.
The plan is to create hyperloop systems that “carry more people than a subway, at airline speeds, and with zero direct emissions,” says Virgin Hyperloop. And this week the company did a successful test run with real people inside a hyperloop pod.
The test took place at Virgin Hyperloop’s 500-meter DevLoop test site in Las Vegas, Nevada. That’s where the company has been running hundreds of tests with unoccupied pods.
For this test, the pod was traveling at 48 meters per second, which is the equivalent of about 107 miles per hour.
The XP-2 test vehicle is a 2-seater. But Virgin envisions hyperloop vehicles that will seat up to 28 passengers and travel between cities hundreds of miles apart in just minutes.
“Hyperloop is about so much more than the technology. It’s about what it enables – the trips you’d be able to take from Paris to Berlin, Lisbon to Madrid, or Warsaw to Prague,” said Sara Luchian, Director of Passenger Experience for Virgin Hyperloop, and one of the testers.
At many airports, curbside pick-up is moving away from the curb.
On October 29, Los Angeles International joins the growing list of
airports where curbside traffic has gotten so bad that taxis and ride-hailing
services such as Uber to Lyft are no longer permitted to pick up at passengers
at the curb.
“We have heard from our
guests that the current system with ride pickups can be frustrating.” “said
Keith Wilschetz, Deputy Executive Director for Operations and Emergency
Management at Los Angeles World Airports, said in a statement
“Frustrating” is a polite
way of describing how excruciating and time-consuming using a ride-app at LAX
During peak times, app users
now often spend upwards of 45 minutes to an hour between waiting for their ride
to arrive curbside and sitting in traffic to get out of the Central Terminal
“That’s if the drive doesn’t
cancel on you,” said LAX spokesman Heath Montgomery.
At LAX, bad curbside traffic is about to get worse as the airport construction associated with terminal redevelopment and the new automated people mover begins.
“We will be losing more than 30% of our curb front, so doing nothing is
not an option,” said Montgomery.
The solution at LAX is to move the pick-up area for both taxi and ride app users away from the
terminal curbsides entirely to a new area, dubbed “LAX-it,” just east of
Passengers will be able to
walk to the new pick-up area from some of the terminals and a shuttle will
pick-up passengers at all terminals in a dedicated lane on the lower/arrivals
LAX officials say getting from the airport to the pick-up lot should be
no more than 15 minutes (from most terminals) and exiting the terminal should
be faster because drivers no longer must battle backups in the Central Terminal
Once it rolls out on October 29, the LAX-it system will no doubt need
For now, some passengers are worried the new system will be confusing
and pick-up time will be no shorter than it is now. In a statement, Lyft said
it looks forward to working with LAX on providing “the best possible pick-up
and drop-off experience for all users,” but Uber outlined its long list of concerns
with the plan in a letter to airport officials.
How do other airports tackle curbside congestion?
Back in 2016, Seattle Tacoma International Airport
worked with ride-app providers to move pick-ups inside the airport parking
garage, adjacent to space set already aside for other commercial ground
“We have since made traffic flow process
improvements,” said SEA spokeswoman Kate Hudson, “We’re lucky in Washington
state that cars must have front and near license plates as it allows passengers
to locate their vehicle from both angles.”
The Port of Seattle staffs the ride-app pick-up area and
contracts for additional ambassadors during peak times.
With a goal of diverting at least 45% of ride-hailing pick-up
activity away from the terminal roadways, in summer 2018 San Francisco International Airport relocated pickups for Uber Pool,
Express Pool and Lyft’s shared categories to the Domestic Parking Garage. And in March 2019, Uber X and Lyft offered their customers the option to
be picked up in the Airport’s Domestic Hourly Garage at $3 less than the
“To date, these
measures have only shifted about 21% of [ride-hailed] pickup activity off the
terminal roadways, falling short of the 45% diversion rate,” said SFO spokesman
Doug Yakel, so as of June 5, 2019 SFO relocated all domestic terminal pickups
for ride-apps, including Uber, Lyft, and Wingz, from the curbside to the 5th
floor of the Domestic Hourly Parking Garage.
“In the new space, dedicated taxi lanes are to the immediate
left, while three ride share pick-up lanes are on the right,” said AUS spokesman
Bryce Dubee, “The three ride share lanes are color-coded in blue, red and
yellow with corresponding numbers 1-4 so that both passengers and drivers have
a specific spot to meet up.”
The overall walking distance is about 750 feet, so before the
switch was made the airport purchase four ADA-compliant 12-passenger electric
shuttles to provide transport between lower-level locations and also leased an
electric autonomous vehicle to transport passengers on the upper level of the
Looking ahead, at the end of this month, Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) will move both pick-ups and drop-offs for app ride passengers to new dedicated curb areas.
“The new areas – conveniently located in the Central Parking – will be protected from the weather, brightly lit, and connected to all terminals via moving walkways,” said BOS spokeswoman Samantha Decker. “The new areas will also provide all the services passengers expect, including luggage carts, wheelchair services, and bag check service.”
(My story about airports relocating pick-up spots for Uber, Lyft, Wingz and taxis first appeared on USA TODAY)