SpaceX removed a Hyperloop in front of its Hawthorne, California, headquarters at the city’s request. The Hyperloop had been used for testing of experimental transportation solutions.
According to city officials, SpaceX may still have some cleaning up to do after removing the test tube at its Hawthorne facility, including removing a barricade and some plastic cones and getting rid of an unauthorized parking lot. They also expressed curiosity about whether SpaceX was still working on an underground tube.
Hawthorne’s residents had complained to the city that the test tube blocked pedestrian access to a sidewalk. It also blocked the eastbound lane going toward Crenshaw Avenue, which could cause traffic flow complications during busy periods like the morning “rush hour” of people going to work.
It also caused safety issues, including several cases of SpaceX employees getting hit by vehicles while crossing the street. To solve the issue, SpaceX built a pedestrian bridge between its parking garage and the main headquarters complex.
SpaceX still has a mile-long underground test tube, though city officials could not confirm whether that tube is still in use. They say they will give the matter closer scrutiny. Hawthorne City Attorney Robert Kim mentioned that SpaceX faces a requirement to backfill the underground test tube when testing is complete.
As normal for SpaceX (and Tesla), it did not issue a statement on the removal of the test Hyperloop tube or reply to media requests for comment. However, there have been reports that Hyperloop has been “permanently shelved.”
SpaceX previously pulled out of a tunnel project that could transport passengers between the Rancho Cucamonga Metrolink station and Ontario International Airport. Local officials say the project will continue without SpaceX.
SpaceX also dropped a proposal to build a Hyperloop in Los Angeles after a lawsuit alleged that the city violated state law by attempting to exempt it from a required environmental review.
Last year, Elon Musk suggested having the Boring Company drill a tunnel between SpaceX’s Boca Chica, Texas, rocket testing facility and an area just south of Saint Padre Island. Several employees live on the island and Musk suggested that such a tunnel would make it easier for them to reach the test facility.
Officials were also considering acquiring a ferry to provide transportation between Saint Padre Island and a beach close to the facility. They said they couldn’t provide any funding for the proposed project – understandable since tunneling can be expensive. Since then, Elon Musk appeared to have forgotten the matter.
A 1.7-mile Hyperloop installation in Las Vegas cost $47 million to build. Its test riders said it could be pretty bumpy. Virgin Hyperloop also invested in a 500-meter underground track in Las Vegas that could transport passengers in a pod at up to 172 miles per hour. (Just make sure you’re securely fastened in when it starts and stops. Acceleration can throw you if you let it.) Since then, Virgin Hyperloop distanced itself from the Virgin Group with a name change to Hyperloop One when the Virgin Group expressed a desire to focus on cargo transport instead of passenger transport.
However, not everyone is giving up. Hardt recently signed a deal with Posco International, which will provide steel for a pod development and testing hub named European Hyperloop Center (EHC).
SpaceX once promised that a Hyperloop could cut the trip between San Francisco and Los Angeles to 35 minutes – a big deal for people who regularly commute between them. Now it seems to be backing away from the Hyperloop.