Thesis: The Hyperloop will have long-term economic effects as it disrupts many industries, the first being the container shipping industry.
Elon Musk’s vision for the hyperloop is finally coming to fruitation. This innovation will disrupt the transportation industry as soon as it is implemented, and help clear up traffic immediately.
The hyperloop is as Bruce Upbin wrote in his Forbes article, Hyperloop Is Real: Meet the Startups Selling Supersonic Travel,
It’s that far-out idea billionaire industrialist Elon Musk proposed in a 58-page white paper in August 2013 for a vacuum-tube transport network that could hurtle passengers from San Francisco to Los Angeles at 760 miles an hour. Laughed off as science fiction, it is as of today an actual industry with three legitimate groups pushing it forward, including Hyperloop Technologies, the team in Harry Reid’s office. They emerge from “stealth” mode with this article, armed with an $8.5 million war chest and plans for a $80 million round later this year. “We have the team, the tools and the technology,” says Bam Brogan. “We can do this.” The 21st-century space race is on.”
This vacuum tube has been compared to sci-fi fantasies, but it is finally becoming a reality as Alex Davies wrote in his article, “Fortunately for futurists and people who enjoy picking apart complicated plans, an El Segundo, California-based startup has taken Musk up on his challenge to develop and build the Hyperloop.” This innovation will immediately change the dynamics of transportation. As the channels to utilize this form of transportation expand between major hubs, it will allow cargo to be shipped at high speeds throughout these hubs. This will allow a car made in Detroit to be shipped to its buyer in Los Angeles in a matter of just a few hours. This will also clear up some of the hated traffic on highways. Companies will be able to utilize the hyperloop for long distance shipping, for much faster delivery.
The major problem I see with implementing this technology (assuming first that some firm develops the technological and economic capabilities to build the hyperloop) is that truck drivers will oppose this with ferocity. They will see this as a threat to their jobs, and take action against it. This will happen in the form that taxi’s are trying to prevent car hailing apps, i.e. Uber and Lyft, by blocking traffic for hours to send their message. These type of actions will slow the implementation of the hyperloop, but will not stop it. This innovation also will not eliminate truck driver’s jobs because the hyperloop, being so expensive, will only make financial sense between major cities initially. There will still be a need for truck drivers to then make the delivery from these transportation hubs to their final destination. While this will certainly reduce the number of jobs, it will not eliminate entirely, this slow reduction of jobs should allow truck drivers some time to retrain for other jobs or develop other contingency plans.
The hyperloop will change entirely the container shipping industry by increasing the speed at which goods can be delivered to their final destination. It also has large-scale implications for human travel one day too, as Bruce Upbin wrote in his article, “The hyperloop, which Musk dubs “the fifth mode,” would be as fast as a plane, cheaper than a train and continuously available in any weather while emitting no carbon from the tailpipe. If people could get from Los Angeles to Las Vegas in 20 minutes, or New York to Philly in 10, cities become metro stops and borders evaporate, along with housing price imbalances and overcrowding.” While this may be a long ways in the future, it at least now has the chance to become a reality, rather than just a dream of some sci-fi author.