Like most of us, I suppose, I’m intrigued when I hear of plans by the state to consider construction of a Hyperloop along the Interstate 70 corridor that, they say, could ferry passengers between Kansas City and St. Louis, with a potential stop in Columbia, at 640 miles per hour.

The trip from border to border would take an estimated 28 minutes. From either large city to or from Columbia would take a mere 15 minutes! The deed would be done using cars powered by electromagnets through an airless tube. At three times the speed, it would leave high speed rail trains in the dust. Engineers say 1,000 riders a day are likely to use the loop, saving $410 million on state roads and bridges. Drivers would save $91 million from avoiding accidents on I-70.

Economic development directors and state officials are agog. And just think, by early-inning estimates, it will only cost about $10 billion.

I don’t have the numbers, but if we knew the difference between beginning estimates and final costs of the interstate highway system we surely would see an enormous gap and yet we would say in hindsight the overage was worth it. At least we would not think twice of second-guessing our corporate decision to build the system.

But the Hyperloop is a thing of another order, more akin to space travel than the interstate. The interstate accommodates frequent access by way of speed adjusting ramps to locations along the way by drivers piloting familiar automobiles at only 60 to 80 miles an hour. Going from terminal to terminal at 640 miles per hour in an electromagnetic car is something else. A stop or start in Columbia is contemplated, but I can’t imagine Boonville or Odessa will be in the loop except for a mild whoosh as the mysterious magnet goes by. And entubed, at that.

But if technology and finances enable us to do it, how can we resist? A state task force is being assembled to study the idea, peopled with many of our most prestigious institutional luminaries. All, including many of us mere mortals, will ponder the prospect, excited more by the technical possibility than its practicality for the ordinary dirt farmer.

Expanding the concept of the farmer, if I were a lawyer or other exalted type living in St. Louis needing/wanting to meet flesh-to-flesh with a counterpart in Kansas City, the prospect of traveling office-to-office in less time than it takes to get across town might be intriguing, but what the heck? Already we can sit down across a cyber table meeting digital-face-to-face in a time warp even the Hyperloop can’t match. Besides that, aren’t we learning the paucity of the miraculous communications devices now at our command? What will we gain by being able to physically drop in on “neighbors” clear across state only a half-hour away?

I’m accused fairly of being a troglodyte not yet even evolved into the internet/cell phone world. Chances are you won’t see me in the magnetube hurtling thither and yon. For the rest of you, please enjoy the scenery.


Old age is like a plane flying through a storm. Once you are aboard there is nothing you can do.

—Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir