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Friday, July 28, 2017

The Private Sector Will Fix Our Infrastructure

Travel time between New York and Washington, DC will soon be 29 minutes.

The same commute every morning with seemingly endless construction and congestion, all to be completed by some unsure time in the future. You may not be certain when the orange cones will disappear, but you do know how long you sit bumper-to-bumper every day. Sound familiar? It should, because the average American commuter spends 42 hours a year in traffic. That needs to change.

For whatever reason, many Americans continually turn to Washington or their state governments to solve the country’s transportation crisis. The problem with that is we’re constantly given the same solution: throw money at highway expansion projects. However, that’s not innovative – it’s insane.

Thankfully, America is chock-full of innovators. It’s what we do and it’s who we are. That’s why we need to turn to our tech and engineering gurus to solve this crisis. They’ve already created Uber, Amazon, Facebook, Airbnb, and more – but what can they do with transportation infrastructure?

One industry titan has a solution and you may have heard of him before. His name is Elon Musk.

Travel time between New York and Washington, DC will be 29 minutes.The Tesla, Inc. founder and CEO is working on Hyperloop models for Los Angeles and the New York to Washington, D.C. regions. The Hyperloop is an air-tight high-speed transportation system for people and cargo. Musk claims that the NY-DC loop would take 29 minutes total with stops in Baltimore and Philadelphia, a project for which he allegedly got verbal approval.

The Hyperloop uses electromagnetic forces and air pressure to transport people and cargo at airline speeds across the land. Such an innovation would drastically reduce time spent in traffic and would surely boost the economy. The issue is, however, obtaining permits from government officials across state boundaries.

So it begs the question, How realistic is such a massive project?

Realistic enough that Musk has invested enough to launch his most recent project, The Boring Company. The group plans to innovate underground tunnel construction in hopes of alleviating traffic in major regions of the United States. The first focus is a Hyperloop between Los Angeles International Airport and LA’s Union Station. The second simultaneous region is the Hyperloop connecting New York and Washington, D.C.

From there, Tesla claims the focus is on Chicago O’Hare International Airport to downtown, then connecting LA to San Francisco, and then a loop of all major Texas cities. The Boring Company has already constructed a model tunnel on their property in California, and the project already has support from LA Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Investors wary of the potential to obtain government permits is one of Musk’s biggest challenges, but he’s defeated the odds before. And, fortunately, the Trump administration embraces private sector transportation investment.

Tesla, Inc. has also expanded recently with their merger with SolarCity, the company focused on making solar panels mainstream by designing them to look like discrete residential home roofing. However, they aren’t stopping there. Tesla is also producing what they claim to be the most efficient batteries yet – batteries that power electric cars and entire homes.

The niche projects and research by Musk’s various groups shouldn’t be discredited due to their futuristic nature because they’re truly intertwined for a grand vision.

If you wouldn’t trust a politician to be your doctor, why would you trust them to be your engineer?After all, Tesla Motors revolutionized electric cars and their stocks now surpass Ford Motors. But what does a Hyperloop have to do with a luxury electric vehicle?

Well, the Boring Company Hyperloop could be filled with self-driving Tesla vehicles. According to one Morgan Stanley analyst, Tesla’s market value is one-quarter self-driving capabilities. The Hyperloop doesn’t just contain the high-speed capsules, but can also contain separate expressways filled with electric cars.

The Tesla Model 3, the company’s economy vehicle, is scheduled to release within the year and is predicted to be as big for consumers as the release of the Apple iPhone. The vehicle’s self-driving and Uber-like technology is a major selling point for consumers because one can essentially rent their car out while they’re not using it, ultimately bringing down its initial cost.

But Tesla isn’t the only automaker attempting to innovate the transportation industry.

Volvo, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW have all announced their plans to launch fully-electronic line-ups. In fact, Volvo was the first traditional automaker to announce their full conversion from combustion engines to electric engines by 2022.

Although Volvo may have jumped on the electric vehicle innovation train as a result of threatening competition from Tesla, they do have a leg up on Musk’s business: Chinese partnership. Volvo’s parent company, Geely Automobile Holdings of China, is giving the automaker a head start in cheap manufacturing in the country. China also currently has the largest electric car market, suggesting that Volvo stands to be the number one price competitor with Tesla – whose products are notoriously expensive.

Cities across the country continue to invest in dying mass transit systems while attempting to block ridesharing services. Despite the rise of companies like Uber, Lyft, Tesla, Inc., and the Boring Company, such cities are revisiting modern transportation issues with the same old-timey solutions. It’s clear that mass transit is struggling not just with funding, but also with their own clientele. As outlined by, the city’s metro rail is seeing customers flee:

SEPTA’s 123 bus and trolley routes lost about 4.4 million ride trips from fiscal years 2014 to 2016, the agency reported, which mirrors shrinking bus ridership nationwide, according to the American Public Transportation Association.

Despite the downfall of archaic modes of transportation, sharing economy companies are moving forward with truly innovative solutions.

The reason? Those companies are made up of researchers, engineers, and tech titans – not bureaucrats. These folks are at the heart of the problems and it’s their job to find a solution. They’re the experts in their fields. If you wouldn’t trust a politician to be your doctor, why would you trust them to be your engineer?

Reprinted from Capitalism.

  • Matthew Boyer is the Media Relations Associate with Students For Liberty, a Policy Analyst for the Consumer Choice Center, and a contributor.