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California’s Bullet Train Builders to Elon Musk and His Hyperloop: Best of Luck!

Conceptual design sketch of the Hyperloop passenger transport capsule
Conceptual design sketch of the Hyperloop passenger transport capsulePhotograph by Tesla Motors/AP Images

“L.A. to S.F. in 30 minutes?” the front page of the Los Angeles Times asked this morning, reporting on the promise of Hyperloop, the conceptual superfast, solar-powered, tubular transit system that Elon Musk unveiled yesterday. The news came just a day after another L.A. Times piece about the potential of speedy travel up and down California, that one titled: “‘Shovel-ready’ bullet train construction delayed again.” As the blog Curbed Los Angeles put it, “Nice timing, Musk.”

The contrast between Musk’s futuristic option for bridging Los Angeles and the Bay Area, and the much-delayed, over-budget, fast train that the state already has in the works, couldn’t have seemed starker or more striking. And that’s the point. Musk deliberately hopes his Hyperloop will disrupt current plans for the $68 billion railroad. “I don’t think we should do the high-speed rail thing,” Musk told reporters. “It’s basically going to be California’s Amtrak,” he said. He didn’t mean that as a compliment.