Elon Musk Has Been Getting A Lot Of Stick For His Hyperloop Tweet


Jonathan O'Callaghan

Senior Staff Writer


:-(. Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

Poor Elon Musk. He might be a multi-billionaire who runs some of the world’s most desirable companies, but he’s also not averse to controversy.

That’s exactly what he’s incited these last few days, after tweeting he had “verbal government approval” to build his Hyperloop idea on the east coast of the USA.


He said his new tunneling company, The Boring Company, would build an underground tunnel between New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington DC for Hyperloop. New York to DC in 29 minutes would be possible with this system, said Musk.

As a refresher, Hyperloop is an idea to send passenger-carrying pods through vacuum-sucked tubes at speeds of up to 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) per hour. Several companies are now working on this, including Musk's own SpaceX.


It’s just that, well, no one is quite sure what he meant by his tweets. Various outlets have since chased up the officials from each city, and none appear to have given Musk any sort of agreement.

The Mayor of New York’s press secretary on Twitter said this was “news to City Hall”, while transit authorities from New York, Washington and others said they’d never heard of his plan.


Mike Dunn, the deputy communications director for Philadelphia’s mayor, told Jalopnik that “Elon Musk has had no contact with Philadelphia officials on this matter.” Dunn added: “We do not know what he means when he says he received ‘verbal government approval.’” Ouch.


Musk later said he had verbal approval at a “federal level”, saying that this would open the door to state and city discussions. That hasn’t left him completely free of criticism though, with several people pointing out that this announcement on Twitter may have been a bit premature.

“Bad news, Elon, my friend: The White House doesn’t have much power when it comes to rubber stamping gigantic, multi-state infrastructure projects,” WIRED noted.

The Guardian was equally damning: “Lest any billionaires need to brush up on civics 101: the US system of government does not operate on ‘verbal government approvals,’” they said.


His initial tweet has had more than 200,000 likes, with the later clarification tweets garnering only a few thousand. Thus, they note, Musk has succeeded in drumming up excitement, with the actual particulars of what’s going on lost by the wayside.

Musk has often used Twitter for publicity, but on this occasion he may have perhaps misled people a bit with that initial tweet. There’s little doubt that Hyperloop is an exciting idea, but it might be best to temper expectations going forwards.


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