Somerset’s proposal was a 50-mile loop including Somerset, Boston and Providence. Laughable, right? Not in the grander scheme of things.
The Somerset team that included Selectman Holly McNamara was not one of the 10 international winners of the Hyperloop One Global Challenge. McNamara remains optimistic that there’s a future for Hyperloop in this region.
A Hyperloop transportation system is a magnetically levitated train that runs inside a low-pressure tube. Underground pods would transport cargo and people at speeds of around 800 miles an hour.
Somerset’s proposal was a 50-mile loop including Somerset, Boston and Providence.
Not in the grander scheme of things.
Well through the middle of the last century, there were living people who’d seen the world move from horsepower generated by horses to horsepower generated by gasoline engines, people who’d seen the smoke-billowing coal-fired locomotive give way to the airplane.
There is no reason to believe that the means of transport we use today will be the one we will use in 100 years, or even in 10 years. Who knew that one day you’d carry your phone in your pocket?
For decades, Somerset was greatly dependent on the taxes paid by classic smokestack industries. In the case of Somerset, the industry was energy, two big coal-burning power plants, which were the state of the art when they were built.
More importantly, the idea of burning fossil fuel to create electricity was state of the art for a long time, and even now has not been completely replaced, though inroads are being made by everything from solar power to wind power.
The very idea of Hyperloop was ridiculed by a lot of people in Somerset and in surrounding communities, but there is no reason to believe the automobile is fixed forever as the best way to get around. Nothing else stays the same forever, so why should the dominance of the automobile?
You may never leave Somerset for Boston, traveling underground in a pod that is whizzing through a pipe at 800 miles an hour.
In fact, Hyperloop might not be the travel mode of the future.
Something will be the travel mode of the future, because things are always different in the future. Even when they’re not better, they’re different.
Somerset (and McNamara) are at least trying to engage with the possibility of the future in a town of decommissioned smokestack industry, a town that needs to find a future.