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Elon Musk Reveals The Hyperloop: L.A. to San Francisco in 30 Minutes

The Tesla and SpaceX founder's proposed high-speed mass-transit system recalls Walt Disney's vision -- "I would totally take it," 'Arrested Development's' Jason Bateman tells THR.

Tesla Hyperloop - H 2013

SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk has a new high-tech plan -- a complete re-imagining of high-speed mass transit in California, which would send passengers from Hollywood to Silicon Valley in half an hour.

Social networks and commenters across the Internet blew up with speculation about the viability of Musk's "Hyperloop," sort of a mix between a pneumatic tube system and an air hockey table, which the inventor claims could revolutionize transportation between high-density city pairs such as Los Angeles and San Francisco with ultra-high-speed, passenger-carrying pods traveling within a low pressure tube mounted on pylons. 

At least one Hollywood insider is intrigued by the possibilities. "If they built one of those between L.A. and New York, I would totally take it," Arrested Development's Jason Bateman told THR.

In a way, Musk's idea ties back to another Hollywood innovator, according to filmmaker and entrepreneur David Knight, who's directing the 3D long-form documentary Space Shuttle & The New Pioneers. Knight's film tells the story of the end of the space shuttle program and how the space industry is dominated by a handful of high-tech billionaires -- among them, Musk.

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"Walt Disney proposed a monorail from L.A. to go down the freeways, suspended on pylons. That never came to fruition; Walt Disney passed away," Knight told The Hollywood Reporter. "The concept that Elon Musk is talking about is similar. Musk is a lot like Disney in that he sees the thing that most people say can't be done -- and implements it on a large scale."

Musk developed the concept partly in response to the projected $68 billion cost of California's high-speed rail link, which is  to begin construction this fall amid dogged criticism over its cost. The projected travel time between Los Angeles and San Francisco under the system would be roughly three hours.

By contrast, Musk claims his Hyperloop could be built more cheaply than laying rails, would be less susceptible to earthquakes and would reduce noise. Passengers would travel in pods carrying 28 people, with departures as often as every 30 seconds. Response to the proposal ranged from hosannas to skepticism that it would significantly impact existing transportation systems, especially cars.

"Right now, it's just an interesting idea, and I don't think Musk is promoting it beyond that," says Matt Hardigree, editor-in-chief of Jalopnik. "The only people this would seriously impact in terms of loss of income are plane operators and the large-scale rail project it wants to replace."