Category Archives: Reading Material

A Primer on Hyperloop Travel: How far off is the Future?

By Joanna Simon

Supersonic travel in pods through frictionless tubes may sound like the basis for the next George Lucas creation, but it may be a reality in the near future. Planning for high-speed travel via a Hyperloop system is underway and could drastically reduce travel times between major cities.

Hyperloop One Desert Tube
Hyperloop One Desert Tube

What is Hyperloop?

The Hyperloop is a proposal for high-speed inter-city travel through steel tubes, in pod-like vehicles, for both passengers and cargo. This technology is estimated to reduce travel time from Los Angeles to San Francisco to a mere 35 minutes, a trip that takes even the fastest of drivers 5 hours to complete.

How does it work?

Hyperloop infrastructure consists of steel tubes, either underground in tunnels or elevated, which serve as a mechanism to transport pods. The tubes create a near-vacuum environment and utilize air and friction resistance technologies to transport pods at speeds faster than airplane travel. The technology is energy efficient: it requires relatively low power, and some companies suggest that the entire system can be powered via solar panels (however, some experts are skeptical).

What’s in a travel pod?

            Several versions of passenger travel pods will exist, including a standard coach pod resembling economy airplane seating, a meeting pod with tables and angled chairs and a sleek and comfortable lounge cabin.

Hyperloop Pod Rendering

How will a Hyperloop ride feel?

The idea of riding in a small and windowless capsule may raise concern for some passengers; engineers are working to consider comfort factors. They are also considering how to minimize pod vibration, as even the slightest tectonic movement could cause a jolt that would be felt while traveling at near-sonic speeds.

Where will Hyperloop be built?

Several companies are currently working to perfect the technology and have developed route proposals around the world. Many of these proposals are in development stage and have completion forecasted for 10-20 years from now:

Cities Travel Time by Car Travel Time by Plane Travel Time by Hyperloop Company
LA-San Francisco 5.5 hours 1.5 hours 35 minutes Hyperloop One
Stockholm-Helsinki 12 hours *includes ferry 1 hour 30 minutes Hyperloop One
Paris-Amsterdam 5.5 hours 1.5 hours 30 minutes Delft Hyperloop
Kracow-Gdansk, Poland 6 hours 1.3 hours 35 minutes Hyper Poland
Toronto-Montreal 5.5 hours 1 hour 30 minutes Transpod
Vienna-Budapest 3 hours 45 minutes 20 minutes HTTP

How much will it cost to build?

Hyperloop One, the company spearheading the California project, is privately funded. Their estimates show that the project will cost $5.4 billion and gross $300 million in annual revenue.

How much will it cost to ride?

With route and pod design still underway there have been few estimates to how much a single ticket to ride the Hyperloop will cost. Some design teams claim that it will cost the price of a bus ticket, but few actual figures are currently available.

What challenges exist?

Cost: Concerns are widespread about Hyperloop’s feasibility and success, particularly considering construction and testing costs. Much of this work relies on unproven technology; it is not yet known how much it will cost to bring it to reality.

Safety: Hyperloop travel is arguably safer than other transportation options: the system is enclosed, protected from the elements and controlled by pressure and internal dynamics, making it immune to human error. However, experts are concerned about the availability of oxygen in the chamber should an unexpected event result in a loss of pressure. Additionally, emergency braking and power outage scenarios are currently being tested.

Policy: Hyperloop infrastructure, whether above or below ground, will pass through towns, other cities and will disrupt public and private resources. A feasibility study of land use issues and potential human impact is needed to move forward.

Connectivity: One of the biggest concerns with the Hyperloop system is its’ potential connection to other modes of transportation. A 35-minute trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco could be doubled if the destination is downtown, but the docking stations are 30 minutes outside.

Demand: As driverless cars become more of a reality, they will make highway driving safer and more pleasant. Driverless cars may become more appealing to travelers, as they will provide door-to-door transport, rather than the less convenient and Hyperloop.


Information sources:

Hyperloop One

Business Insider




Why we need a LaGuardia AirTrain

In today’s Daily News, NYU Rudin Center Director Mitchell L. Moss makes the case for a 21st-century AirTrain to LaGuardia Airport in his op-ed “Getting from point A to point LGA: Why we need a LaGuardia AirTrain.”

“Improving LaGuardia Airport without transforming the way in which passengers can get to and from the airport makes no sense. With the proposed AirTrain, we will finally have an airport commensurate with New York.”

Read the full piece here.

What We’re Reading

We love transportation! And, we hope you enjoy this week’s reading list. This week, we’re reading about new attempts to marry shopping and dining experiences here in NYC with TurnStyle at the Columbus Circle subway station, impending L train repairs, and fun facts about floating concrete. What we’re reading this week:

What We’re Reading

In case you you missed it, our assistant director for technology programming, Sarah Kaufman, recently guest posted to the Second Avenue Sagas blog. We highly recommend you read her piece, “Transit: The Gender Difference” here.
This week, we’ve also been reading–and thinking–about the following transportation news items:

Photo by Phil Hilfiker on Flickr

What We’re Reading This Week

School is out for spring break this week, but we’re busy preparing for NYU Wagner’s Admitted Students Day on April 1st and reading up on this week’s transportation news. Take a look:

What We’re Reading this Week

In case you missed it, the Rudin Center released a new report this week, entitled “Downtown Rising: How Brooklyn became a model for urban development.” For the full report, click here.
We’ve also been busy preparing for our Staten Island Bus Hackathon with the MTA a week from Saturday. For more information about the Hackathon take a look at our announcement post. And, finally, there’s a lot of transpo-related news to share this week–here’s what we’ve been reading:

  • Oculus, Centerpiece of Transit Hub and Selfie Magnet, Is Set to Open
  • Why is NYC MIA on the MTA Board?
  • MTA approves $202 million radio and dispatch contract
  • MTA to award additional $66M to Second Avenue subway project
  • One Day,625 Delays
  • This Danish city is so bike-friendly even kindergartners ride to school
  • Uber’s in India to Learn How to Rule the Rest of the World
  • What We’re Reading This Week

    In addition to our weekly news round-up, the Rudin Center has news of our own this week: On Monday, we announced that the Rudin Center will host New York City’s first ever bus hackathon to analyze and improve Staten Island express bus routes. The hackathon will take place on Saturday, March 5th. Read the official announcement here for more information and to register.
    Additionally, Rudin Center graduate researchers put together a re-cap of the transit closures caused by winter storm Jonas.

    Video of the Week:

    Photo by: Tina Leggio on Flickr

    Blizzards: New York City Does It Better

    Winter storm Jonas plowed into the East Coast on Friday, January 22nd, dropping nearly 27 inches of snow on New York City through the following night. Cities throughout the mid-Atlantic coast were affected; both Washington, DC and Philadelphia received approximately 22 inches. (1) Maintaining public transportation service during a large storm is no small task, nor is resuming service once the snow has stopped and roads and above-ground rails remain buried. But, being able to dig out – and doing it quickly – is an important part of keeping a city moving during the snowiest months.

    Of the three major cities most affected by Jonas, which transit system best handled the storm? For a quick discussion of the effects of the storm on commute and travel in these cities, we compared three major modes–subway, bus, and car–and included, for New York City, salient points from Placemeter’s pedestrian activity analysis. (3)

    • Washington, DC- Metro closed on Friday at 8:00 p.m., and remained closed through Sunday. On Monday, limited underground service reopened on three of Metro’s six subway lines. Storm-related delays continued to slow down regular service on Tuesday – more than 48 hours after snowfall stopped. (2)
    • New York City- Above-ground subway operations were suspended after 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, while underground subway operations never ceased. By Monday, aboveground service had resumed.
    • Philadelphia- SEPTA suspended all weekend service beginning at 4:00 a.m. on Saturday, but was back up and running by Monday morning. In total, this constituted an approximately 48 hour outage.


    • Washington, DC- WMATA suspended bus service on all but lifeline routes on Friday at 5:00 p.m. with service completely suspended by 11:00 p.m. (2) On Wednesday, WMATA resumed metrobus service on a modified schedule, but did not become fully operational until Friday. This constituted a 4-day, more than 96 hour bus outage.
    • New York City- The MTA was forced to stop bus service after 12:00 p.m. on Saturday as city roads piled up with snow, but by Sunday at 7 a.m. buses were back in operation on a modified schedule. Altogether, MTA bus service was down for a mere 19 hours.
    • Philadelphia- SEPTA suspended all weekend service beginning at 4:00 a.m. on Saturday. By Monday morning, 35 percent of SEPTA’S normal bus operations were back in service. In total, bus service was down in Philadelphia for just over 48 hours.


    • Washington, DC- Mayor Muriel Bowser issued a warning to drivers and pedestrians urging them to keep off the roads through the duration of the storm. No official travel ban was put in place. (8)
    • New York City- A driving ban was put into effect beginning Saturday at 2:30 p.m. and continuing through Sunday morning at 7:00 a.m. (5) Alternate Side Parking rules were suspended through Monday, 2/1, while parking meters remained in effect. It is not clear, however, whether or how many parking violations were given in the days after the storm. (6)
    • Philadelphia- A Snow Emergency was issued, forcing vehicle owners to move parked vehicles from emergency routes. Parking regulations were loosened to accommodate residents difficulties with parking; the PPA did not enforce meter and kiosk parking violations until the Tuesday following the storm. (11)

    Pedestrian Activity (NYC):

    The Thursday after the storm, Placemeter released a comprehensive analysis of pedestrian activity in several NYC neighborhoods. The company found decreases in foot traffic during the worst of the weather on Saturday, which included the heaviest snowfall and worst travel conditions (including the driving ban). However, Placemeter identified increased foot traffic to neighborhood parks. (3) While pedestrian traffic dropped in places like Times Square and Penn Station during the poor weather, most areas were back to typical traffic levels by Monday morning. (3)
    Despite the disruptions, the transit systems in Washington, New York, and Philadelphia admirably mitigated the effects of winter storm Jonas. New York City stands out in its response, having continued underground subway service throughout the duration of the storm.

    New York City’s storm management was successful mainly due to clear communication and preparation. Days before the storm hit, Mayor de Blasio launched a winter weather public service announcement to help New Yorkers prepare for the snow and cold. (7) The City agencies collaborated to mitigate the storm’s effects on residents:

    • NYC Department of Sanitation deployed 579 salt spreaders on Friday evening, well before the inclement weather. As soon as two inches of snow had accumulated, 1,650 plows were prepared and readied for dispatch. In addition, DOS planned 12-hour shifts for workers starting Friday at 7:00 a.m., with 2,400 workers/shift.
    • Well before the storm, Department of Transportation had plans in-place for the de-icing of bridges and pre-treatment of pedestrian overpasses.
    • The Office of Emergency Management issued advance warning messages to non-profits and local organizations working with people with disabilities and access and functional needs, in addition to providing storm updates to local officials. (9)
    • MTA significantly prepared its own infrastructure, including implementing snow throwers, de-icer cars and tire chains for buses. (10)

    1. NOAA. “STORM SUMMARY NUMBER 13 FOR HISTORIC EASTERN U.S. MAJOR WINTER STORM.” January 24, 2016. Accessed February 04, 2016.
    2. “Metro, Metrobus and MetroAccess Will Shut down for the Weekend.” Washington Post. January 21, 2016. Accessed February 04, 2016.
    3. “How Did Winter Storm Jonas Affect Pedestrian Activity in New York City?” How Did Winter Storm Jonas Affect Pedestrian Activity in New York City? January 28, 2016. Accessed February 04, 2016.
    4. “Weekend Storm Economic Hit Not as Bad as Feared.” The New York Times. January 24, 2016. Accessed February 04, 2016.
    5. “Travel Ban Lifted after Storm Dumps 26 Inches of Snow on NYC.” NY Daily News. January 24, 2016. Accessed February 04, 2016.
    6. “City Hall Press Release.” NYC Office of Emergency Management. January 24, 2016. Accessed February 04, 2016.
    7. “Mayor De Blasio Launches Winter Weather PSA to Help New Yorkers Prepare for Winter Weather.” The Official Website of the City of New York. January 20, 2016. Accessed February 04, 2016.
    8. “Why There’s No Travel Ban in D.C.” Washington Post. January 23, 2016. Accessed February 04, 2016.
    9. “Mayor De Blasio Issues Hazardous Travel Advisory.” The Official Website of the City of New York. January 21, 2016. Accessed February 04, 2016.
    10. “Photos: MTA Itching To Deploy Some Serious “Snow-Fighting” Hardware.” Gothamist. January 21, 2016. Accessed February 04, 2016.
    11. “” City Ends Snow Emergency. January 25, 2016. Accessed February 04, 2016.

    What We’re Reading This Week

    This week on the Rudin Center’s to-read list:

    Video of the week:
    Take a peek at the video progeny of a partnership between the Van Alen Institute and CityLab with the first of Van Alen Sessions.

    What We’re Reading this Week

    It’s been a trying week for transportation services in the New York City region and east coast cities in general as we dig out from the remnants of historic blizzard Jonas. While slogging through the slush puddles, we’ve been rounding-up this week’s transportation news. Here’s what we’ve been reading this week; stay tuned for a re-cap of transit shutdowns along the east coast to be posted next week!

    Video of the week: Casey Neistat snowboards with the NYPD

    Header photo by editrixie on Flickr.