Not only does “Alberta need a transportation solution,” for all of the reasons John Stewart pointed out in his excellent editorial (Red Deer Advocate – December 29, 2015), it also needs an energy solution (apply its O&G expertise more broadly), an economy solution (put its skilled people back to work), and a reputation solution (be seen as a real innovator).
So here’s an idea – maybe a bit out there but certainly less dumb than thinking adding highway lanes is a fix or hoping politicians will finally embrace the price tag and time horizon of high-speed rail.
It’s called the Hyperloop – basically a pneumatic tube for transporting people at high speed. And it doesn’t exist – yet! But it will. Billionaire multi-industry mogul Elon Musk championed it in 2013 and there are some very real, very well-funded companies already designing it and building prototype test tracks in the California dessert.
Can you think of any other place that has an especially high density of (idle) engineering and pipeline construction talent? A terrain that’s generally flat, dry and seismically-stable, with straight lines between cities? A region wrestling with transportation challenges due to population growth? A province eager to show the world some environmental and entrepreneurial leadership? A country with a low dollar, some experience in designing planes, trains and automobiles, and a new government committed to improving infrastructure?
If Alberta so badly wants to build a pipeline, build it! Here’s the perfect chance to do it. So what if it doesn’t carry oil to tidewater. It might develop, export and attract so much more.
And it would be a pretty interesting transportation solution too.