Musk, the head of Tesla Motors and SpaceX, said his Hyperloop concept would transport people in aluminum pods running inside nearly airless steel tubes running side by side for most of the journey and closing the loop at either end.
These tubes would be mounted on columns 50 to 100 yards apart, and inside the tubes the pods, powered by electromagnets, could reach speeds of 800 mph, Musk told Businessweek in his first interview about the Hyperloop.
Musk said he wants to build a prototype and estimated the whole project of a Hyperloop between Los Angeles and San Francisco would cost $6 billion, compared with the $68 billion budget for the same phase of the proposed California high-speed rail project.
However, Musk said, beyond a possible prototype he's too busy with his other ventures to go further with the concept so is releasing the idea into the public domain to let others build on the concept.
"The Hyperloop (or something similar) is, in my opinion, the right solution for the specific case of high traffic city pairs that are less than about 1500 km or 900 miles apart," he said in a blog post.
"It would be great to have an alternative to flying or driving, but obviously only if it is actually better than flying or driving."