The 10-minute hi-tech trip from Gold Coast to Brisbane
GOLD Coast Federal Minister Steve Ciobo is pushing a hi-tech, super-fast transport pod - slashing Brisbane trips to 10 minutes - as a solution to the city's gridlocked M1.
The Tourism, Trade and Investment Minister, fresh from visiting the US headquarters of Hyperloop One, believes their idea for near supersonic travel is worth "exploration".
Mr Ciobo said he spent a day with Hyperloop One CEO Rob Lloyd in Los Angeles two weeks ago and raised with him the "possibility of applications in Australia, culminating in me raising Gold Coast to Brisbane and also Sunshine Coast".
"The technology suits itself to the distance between the two points," Mr Ciobo said yesterday when the M1 transport nightmare flared with snarl-ups causing major morning and afternoon delays.
Hyperloop One has developed technology to magnetically propel transport pods suited to people and freight at 1080 kilometres per hour inside sealed elevated tubes.
SpaceX and Tesla electric cars founder Elon Musk dreamt it up in a 2013 paper to then-President Barack Obama. Mr Musk is not involved in Hyperloop One but the company says it shares his vision and Virgin mogul Richard Branson is a Hyperloop One investor.
Mr Ciobo said it was now proven in a practical sense at test sites in Nevada and San Francisco.
"Hyperloop is certainly unconventional. I recognise it might sound far-fetched. However, the M1 Brisbane to Gold Coast traffic congestion requires a forward-looking approach," Mr Ciobo said.
"It's unconventional insofar as it's not commercial yet but it's proven technology. It does warrant additional exploration.
"If we are going to spend billions on a solution - and make no mistake, that is what it will take with another road - we should be looking at all options."
Mr Ciobo said it had yet to be proven commercially.
Hyperloop One's site says capital and operating costs "range widely based on route and application" but third parties had costed it at two-thirds that of high-speed rail.
The Dubai Roads and Transport Authority has signed an agreement with Hyperloop One to explore using it as a way of connecting Dubai to the greater United Arab Emirates.
Mr Ciobo said he planned to raise it with Federal Urban Infrastructure Minister Paul Fletcher as an option but ultimately State Government would be responsible for commissioning and building one.
"But I'm happy obviously to work in a constructive way because it's clear the Gold Coast needs a longer term solution," Mr Ciobo said.
"It's clear continuing to build more roads isn't going to be a solution in an area where we have such massive population growth such as the Gold Coast and Brisbane."
During the run up to last year's state election, LNP proposed building a second M1 while Labor panned that in favour of ongoing upgrades at key junctures.
At the time, the RACQ said the congestion was so bad both "fixes" would be needed.