TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority is conducting high-level research and a feasibility study examining the technical, financial, and regulatory feasibility of implementing hyperloop, air taxi and urban aerial gondolas. The state legislature has allocated $1M for Tampa Bay to study these technologies.
Hyperloop, air taxis and aerial gondolas in an urban setting are three forms of innovative transportation that have the potential to change the way people move between and within cities, according to TBARTA.
The feasibility study will cover route types, corridor profiles and connections, travel demand, environmental considerations, safety considerations, regulatory considerations, an overview of the technologies alongside comparable technologies and innovations, costs and sector financing opportunities.
The portion of the study related to hyperloop will focus on its applicability to the State of Florida. The portion of the study related to air taxis and aerial gondolas will focus on Tampa Bay opportunities.
• Hyperloop is an experimental form of transportation involving a floating pod that travels inside a low-pressure tube. Because almost all the air is removed from the tube, friction is greatly reduced, and in theory, the pods can reach speeds over 700 miles per hour.
• Air taxis are an on-demand, point-to-point travel system between small regional and general aviation airports. The concept was initially tested by NASA in 2001 as part of the Small Aircraft Transportation Systems (SATS) Initiative. In the last several years, multiple start-up companies including Uber have been working on the development of electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft.
• Aerial gondolas in an urban setting are used internationally, but currently, there are only two operational aerial gondolas in the U.S. that are in an urban setting: the Roosevelt Island Tramway in New York, and the Portland Aerial Tram in Oregon.