Apple's hometown wants a hyperloop, and it just may get it.
THE (TOO) BIG APPLE. Apple dodged a major financial bullet Tuesday night, and the reason may have something to do with the hyperloop, the futuristic mode of high-speed transportation first proposed by Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
Apple calls the city of Cupertino, CA home and, as the company has grown, so has its strain on the city. To address one of its major Apple-caused problems — transportation — the city proposed creating a “head tax” – a tax that would charge any Cupertino-based company with 100 or more employee a flat fee per employee.
If it had passed, Apple would have seen its tax bill jump from $17,000 to $9.4 million, according to a report from the Cupertino City Council – money Cupertino would have used to fund new transportation projects.
But the Council voted down the tax on Tuesday, and it could be because they think a Cupertino hyperloop might be a better solution to their transportation woes.
TESTING THE WATERS. According to a report by the Silicon Valley Business Journal, Cupertino Mayor Darcy Paul has met with Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) about the possibility of building one of the high-tech systems in Cupertino. He also thinks Apple might be willing to “heavily subsidize” its construction.
Apple, however, has yet to comment directly on a hyperloop project, though the company’s director of state and local government affairs, Michael Foulkes, did suggest during Tuesday’s meeting that Cupertino officials work with Apple on “forward-thinking solutions” to “really be creative and find solutions for the long-term.”
IT TAKES A VILLAGE. So far, all plans for a hyperloop in the U.S. are just that: plans. There still isn’t anywhere in the nation a person can actually hop aboard a hyperloop. Part of the hold up, according to HTT CEO Dirk Ahlborn, is getting everyone to sign off on the project.
“Democracy isn’t friendly to these kinds of things. It’s a very large infrastructure project requiring a lot of people to work together,” he told Business Insider in July. “If you want to do this in the U.S., you have tedious right-of-way issues. In China or Russia, however, all it takes is someone powerful to decide that they want it, and it happens.”
A WIN-WIN SITUATION. In Cupertino, getting everyone to work together might not be so hard. The city wants a solution to its transportation issues, and Apple has made it clear it doesn’t want to pay the proposed head tax. Presumably, Apple would have to pay that tax every year. If it agrees to subsidize a Cupertino hyperloop like Paul thinks it might, the company may have an opportunity to trade that recurring fee for a one-time construction cost.
While no one can seem to agree on exactly what that cost might be, Apple is now worth a whopping $1 trillion. So if any U.S. company can afford to take a risk on building a hyperloop, it’s probably Apple. And with the city’s government already warmed up to the idea, it might not be long before Apple employees get to enjoy the novelty of riding the Cupertino hyperloop to work every day.
More on the hyperloop: An Introduction to the Hyperloop