If you ask Elon Musk, Hyperloop technology is landing in D.C. a lot sooner than anyone expects.

But as Andrew Trueblood, chief of staff in the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, says that in reality the D.C.-NYC Hyperloop is further out than Musk thinks.

Andrew Trueblood

“Obviously Hyperloop is a technology that doesn’t exist yet, so I don’t even want to predict if it’s coming to the city yet,” Trueblood said in the latest episode of District Download, our podcast with General Assembly D.C.

“The Boring Company is beginning their efforts.”

Technology, such as the potential D.C.-Baltimore Maglev bullet train development, shows more promise than Musk’s tunnels and a Hyperloop, Trueblood said. And at the end of the day, all of this tech is working to solve the same problems: high congestion, safety and a lack of “last-mile” access.

“Those are things that really excite us — when we can see ways of moving more people around more efficiently or faster or more easily or cheaper for them,” Trueblood said.

Ryan Croft

And a huge part of developing and finding those new transportation options is the ever-utilized feedback loop between startups, innovators and the city government. As TransitScreen co-founder Ryan Croft points out, transportation startups can’t exist without a relationship with local officials and local officials can’t innovate without startups.

“We do talk to customers and individual citizens about how they interact with their city, and I think we have a unique perspective into what they want and what they need,” Croft said. “And there are a lot of things that the city understands that we don’t.”

That feedback loop is what the city hopes to lean on in both its ongoing dockless transportation pilots, including bicycles and e-scooters, and its new quest for an autonomous vehicle pilot in Southwest D.C.

“We were one of the first cities that did car share many years ago,” Trueblood said. “Because of the way that we’re structured and we’re an urban environment, we’re able to be particularly innovative here.”

And it’s important to remember why this work is needed, Croft said. At the end of the day, they’re working to get fewer cars on the road and create a safer way for residents to travel from one place to another.

“It’s very exciting to give people these options, and by no means is this a perfect system,” Croft said. “There are a lot of kinks that need to be worked out, from public use and permitting and street space and where they’re parked, but I think these are winnable challenges.”

Trueblood and TransitScreen co-founder Ryan Croft joined District Download, our podcast with General Assembly D.C., to chat about urban mobility and the future of smart transportation in the city.

Subscribe to District Download on your favorite podcast app: Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud, Stitcher and RadioPublic.


7 charts about dockless bikeshare from the developers of Transit [Greater Greater Washington]

“Mayor Bowser Establishes Autonomous Vehicle Working Group” [DC Government]

Elon Musk Makes Some Vague Moves on D.C.-NYC Hyperloop Project [DC Inno]

All music for this episode comes from Broke For Free under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license. Our theme song is “Playground Pigeon,” and transition track for this episode is “Something Elated.”