ST. LOUIS – The CEO of Virgin Hyperloop One has operated subway systems in New York, London, and Hong Kong. So when he chose Missouri as his first stop among regions interested in Hyperloop, that got the attention of local Hyperloop supporters.
“Our elected officials are engaged, our community is engaged and our chamber is engaged in getting this opportunity to bring it to Missouri,” said Austin Walker, VP of Public Policy for the St. Louis Regional Chamber.
Walker believes it’s a positive sign for St. Louis that Jay Walder is spending several days in Missouri, including a St. Louis visit on Thursday and Friday.
“I’m meeting with the business community. I’m meeting with academia and I’m meeting with the governor and legislature,” Walder said. “I’m meeting with a blue-ribbon panel and I’m pretty excited about this.”
Hyperloop technology involves an electric engine and magnets that allow pods to glide at the speed of an airplane.
“We’ll glide seamlessly. We’ll feel smooth and you should be able to hold a cup of coffee while you’re going 600 miles per hour,” Walder said.
Andrew Smith is the Hyperloop liaison for Heartland Hyperloop. He has been a believer in Hyperloop even before a recent study found a line from Kansas City to St. Louis would be viable along Interstate 70.
“Imagine being able to go from Denver to St. Louis to Atlanta, Nashville, Minneapolis, Chicago, all of these great heartland cities, and be able to get to any one of them in an hour, simply by going to a terminal and hopping on a pod,” Smith said.
He believes there will be enormous economic benefits wherever Hyperloop debuts and thinks Missouri has a good chance of being the first location.
“To me, it’s the most exciting economic development opportunity we’ve had really since the interstate highway system and before that since airplanes,” he said.
He believes it’s possible a test line about a dozen miles could be built somewhere in the United State in the next several years and likes the odds of that line ending up in Missouri.