High-Speed Travel

Austin to San Antonio in 15 minutes? This new train promises to do it.

Austin to San Antonio in 15 minutes? This new train promises to do it.

Transonic Transportation
Austin to San Antonio in 15 minutes? Sign us up. Transonic Transportation/Facebook

How would you like to travel from Austin to San Antonio in just 15 minutes? It sounds futuristic, but the idea is much closer to reality than you may think. Transonic Transportation, a firm in San Antonio, is developing a new train to make travel between the two cities quick, easy, and inexpensive.

Unlike a traditional rail system, the project calls for innovative new technology designed by SpaceX called Hyperloop, which uses an electric motor and magnetic levitation to whisk passenger cars down an enclosed tube.

"It's the purest form of travel available to us today," says Transonic CEO Joshua Manriquez.

With target speeds of up to 600 miles per hour, Transonic's plans for the San Antonio-Austin passage would allow for the transport of 6,000 to 12,000 passengers each hour. A one-way trip should take only 15 minutes, and an average round-trip pass is expected to cost $8 to $12.

The route would be located west of I-35 and is not expected to encroach on homes or businesses in the area. Instead of purchasing land, Transonic will ask for right-of-use from landowners. The tube will be suspended on pylons, so, in theory, landowners could continue using the space. Transonic also is proposing a royalties program for landowners.

Transonic, which launched this year, is working on a similar passage between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, but the firm moved its headquarters from Louisiana to San Antonio to prioritize the Texas project.

"The Hyperloop concept received a much warmer reception in Texas than Louisiana, but nowhere as much as the San Antonio-Austin corridor. We can't express how much we're humbled by their receptiveness and their willingness to help us make the project a reality," says Manriquez.

Right now the team is working on research and development, land acquisition, and proof of concept. Next steps include hammering out policy with the Texas Department of Transportation, starting construction on a 1-mile test track in Mississippi, and locking down funding through private investment.

Manriquez says the best-case scenario for the project is to have a Texas Triangle corridor operating in 20 years. Anything that keeps us off I-35 is worth the wait.