Will you travel by hyperloop?

Virgin Hyperloop One capsule visits Kansas City

How hyperloop may change how and why we travel

(This post is a slightly different version of a story I wrote for CNBC)

Think of how well-traveled and eco-responsible you would be if you could economically zip between cities at speeds exceeding 700 miles per hour in a comfortable, carbon-neutral way.

Without going to the airport.

That’s the promise of hyperloop. The ground transportation technology envisions moving people (and, no doubt, cargo) between cities in pods or capsules traveling on magnetized tracks in vacuum tubes running above or below ground.

Virgin Hyperloop One test track in Nevada

Could hyperloop happen?

For decades, hyperloop has been the stuff of science fiction. But advances in technology, and mounting frustration with existing transit modes, means hyperloop has gone from fantasy to likely fruition.

Getting hyperloop on the fast track is a goal embraced by the likes of entrepreneur Elon Musk, transportation technology companies such as Virgin Hyperloop One and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies and many cities around the world.  

And while there are plenty of economic, technological, safety, regulatory, public policy and other hurdles to overcome, advocates believe hyperloop could truly revolutionize the way we travel by addressing many of today’s transportation hassles.

“My sense is that hyperloop will absolutely happen,” said Devin Liddell, principal futurist at Seattle-based design company Teague, “Think about the emerging traffic problems in some of biggest U.S. cities. Yuck. We need a new system like hyperloop because our present systems are terrible. This is a better solution.”

Where might hyperloop happen?

The first hyperloop system to carry passengers will likely be built in India or the United Arab Emirates. “We’re talking years, not decades,” said Ryan Kelly, spokesman for Virgin Hyperloop One, “And here in the US, the race is on to be the first state in the nation with hyperloop technology. Nine states are exploring hyperloop technology: Missouri, Texas, Colorado, Ohio, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Washington, Indiana, and Oregon, in addition to Nevada, which hosts our test site.”

The North Central Texas Council of Governments has high hopes for hyperloop. “An RFP for the Fort Worth-to-Dallas high-speed transportation project is expected to go out in the next few weeks,” said council spokesman Brian Wilson, “Both high-speed rail and hyperloop technology will be examined as possibilities for this corridor.”

Public and private entities in Great Lakes Mega Region are working with Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) on a multi-state hyperloop project that would connect Chicago, Cleveland and Pittsburgh in less than an hour.  

And in Kansas City, Missouri, where a hyperloop by Virgin Hyperloop One proposes to replace the four-hour drive between St. Louis and Kansas City with a 30-minute ride, city officials see hyperloop as transportation destiny.

“Ever since covered wagons stopped here, resupplied and went west, we have always been a transportation hub,” said Ryan Weber, President and CEO of the KC Tech Council, “We have a major river system here. The highway interstate systems started here. Transportation has been a big part of our history, it’s a big part of our future. So hyperloop will flourish here.”

How will hyperloop happen?

Proponents envision hyperloop travel as being more affordable, much more convenient and far less stressful than many forms of existing travel.

For example, the autonomous systems could have different-sized cars or pods that operate on an on-demand basis, eliminating the need for a traveler to show up at a station at a prescribed time.

And because hyperloop vehicles will travel in tubes, weather delays would be avoided.

“Hyperloop also takes some of the great things of rail, such as getting us close to city centers, but adds the advantage of the speed of air travel,” said Teague’s Liddell.

And while passengers will spend far less time inside a hyperloop pod than most now do in airplanes, designers are already thinking about the hyperloop passenger experience.

“With Hyperloop we are aiming for the experience to be as entertaining or as productive as being in your own living room or your office,” said Dirk Ahlborn, chairman of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies.

HTT enlisted PriestmanGoode, a company known for designing aircraft cabin interiors, trains and small spaces to design a prototype hyperloop capsule. However, “When designing something as completely revolutionary as hyperloop, we consciously did not reference existing forms of transport to ensure that our thinking was clear and unrestrained,” said PriestmanGoode chairman Paul Priestman.

Courtesy HyperloopTT

When cities are linked by hyperloop it may also change when and why people travel.

People could more easily work in one city but live in another. Or visit another city for dinner, a movie, a sports game a museum or a show.  

“Hyperloop would bring jobs and economic benefits to linked cities,” said Ryan Weber of the KC Tech Council, who also notes that there’s likely to be a big tourism bump for whichever U.S. city begins selling tickets to a hyperloop ride first.

Train Tuesday: I skipped the plane and rode the Eurostar train is usually about airports and airplanes.

But a new joint campaign between the London and Paris tourism bureaus and the folks at Eurostar is aimed at reminding travelers that is much easier, much faster and sometimes pretty darn cheap to get between London and Paris on the train.


I tried it out this past weekend, starting my journey at the posh St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel in London, which sits on top of the St. Pancras Railway Station.

That’s conveniently the starting point for boarding the Eurostar to the Gare du Nord train station in central Paris.

If, like me, you’re staying in a certain category of room at the hotel, a hotel employee will escort you directly from the lobby, through the fast track ticket and passport checkpoints and directly to your seat on the train.

The journey from London to Paris on the Eurostar train is then pretty darn quick and easy and takes just 2 hours and 15 minutes, including passage through the Chunnel.  If I had chosen to go to Brussels instead the journey would have taken less than two hours.

On board, Wi-Fi is free, each seat has power and there’s a fold-down table. A cafe car sells snacks and there’s a meal included for those traveling in business premier.

Like airline tickets, fares can vary widely depending on time of year and even time of day, but during low season I’m told it’s possible to get return London-Paris ticket for under $80.

As a bonus: in Paris, even the standard tickets are good after your journey to gain 2-for-1 admission to many museums.

Traveling from city center to city center saves all that time and hasssle going to and from the airports so it does indeed make visiting bost cities a “why not?” option.

My time in Paris is short,  but the Navigator tips offered by the concierge here at the Renaissance Paris Vendome are super helpful in helping me make the most of my time, so I’ll be back later with photos from my touring.

For now – here’s me, my bread and baker/instructor Didier Lavry of Le Pett Mitron and at the end of my Meeting the French bread making class this morning.


(My visit to London and Paris is hosted by Visit London and the Paris Tourist Office, but reports are strictly my opinion.

Fresh art at St. Louis Lambert Int’l Airport


A new exhibit at St. Louis Lambert International Airport focuses on the history of transportation.

Traveling through Time: Photographs from the collections of the St. Louis Mercantile Library at the University of Missouri St. Louis brings to the airport iconic black and white photos of the S.S. Admiral at the St. Louis waterfront, hot air balloon travel, some of St. Louis’ first female airline pilots, St. Louis’ Union Station, a boatman navigating the Mississippi River, and an early view of the Eads Bridge.

The six iconic images draw from the Mercantile’s special collections and are enlarged to nearly 7 ft. tall for easy viewing in light display boxes on the passageways between the lower level of Terminal 1 and Baggage Claim.

The Traveling through Time exhibition will be on display through September 2018.

(Photos courtesy of the St. Louis Mercantile Library at the University 0f  Missouri – St. Louis. )

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Boston Logan Airport studying pick-up/drop-off fee for passengers

I got Caught in Boston magnet

Would you pay a fee to drop someone off at the airport – or to swing by and pick them up?

Along with the hassle of dealing with traffic, that may soon be something to add to the decision making process of heading out to Boston Logan International Airport.

The Massachusetts Port Authority, which operates Logan airport, is going to pay for a study to evaluate this option, the Boston Globe Reports, to see pick up and drop off fees might help alleviate curb congestion, air pollution and other traffic maladies brought on by the 20,000 cars that just swing through the airport each day.

Charging for airport pick-ups and drops offs is irritating, but not new. Drivers entering the roads near Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport pay a $2 toll if they’re on the grounds for eight to 30 minutes, which airport officials believe is enough time to make a pick up or drop off and maybe squeeze in a hug. (The toll is $4 if a car is only on the airport grounds for eight minutes or less, which is a  clue a driver is using the airport grounds as a short-cut to somewhere else.)

Some airports in the United Kingdom charge drivers to enter airport roadways as well.






An Uber ride with a Brussels Airport worker

The Uber driver taking us from Brussels central train station to our hotel was on duty  Wednesday only because he couldn’t go to his regular job out at the airport.  President Donald Trump was scheduled to land in Air Force one at Brussels Airport on his way to attend a NATO summit meeting and the driver said his airline had canceled flights for the day.

I asked him if he had been working at the airport the day of the terrorist attacks last March.  He had. And had lost a friend who was working the ticket counters that day. It took him six months and a lot of therapy to get back to work, he said, and he knows many passengers are still choosing not to travel to through Brussels.

I didn’t ask him if the Manchester terrorist attack was giving him new nightmares, but as we drove through town, past clusters of police and armored vehicles in the streets in advance of Trump’s visit, he said he couldn’t wait till this visit was over.