SAN ANTONIO -- San Antonio to Austin in 15 minutes? A local company says it can be done using a bullet train going up to 600 miles an hour, costing you less than $10 a ride.
A development firm called Transonic Transportation is already doing research in San Antonio to figure out how to make this a reality. They say they can build a train that practically flies.
At speeds of 600 miles per hour, the "San Antonio-Austin Hyperloop" will travel as fast as a commercial airline.
"You're sticking a high-speed rail in a steel tube and you're gonna be able to go a lot faster. That's one of the benefits. I honestly believe the greatest benefit is your energy consumption is gonna go way down as well as your operations and maintenance costs," said Joshua Manriquez, CEO of Transonic Transportation.
The project by Transonic Transportation is still in the very preliminary stages. All research and development is happening at their new site off Highway 90 on the far west side, with test runs taking place on a one-mile runway in Mississippi.
There is no set route, nor have they decided to build above ground or underground. What they do know is this will be the first project of its kind in Texas.
Manriquez says numbers from the Department of Transportation show projects like this could yield more than 35,000 jobs in the area.
"We really feel, maybe not to have an operating system in 10 years, but at the very least we could be picking a contract and breaking ground in 10 years," Manriquez said.
Imminent domain won't be a factor. The company plans to use input from landowners to dictate the route.
"What we're proposing is a royalties program, similar to mineral rights in the petroleum industry," Manriquez said. "You're gonna be able to see a payment based on profit from the system either monthly or quarterly."
Manriquez added that the train will start out going 200 to 300 mph then slowly work its way up to 600 mph. He says they're hoping to transport 6,000 to 12,000 people an hour for less than $10 a ticket.
Trains will be taking off every 30 seconds, 24 hours a day. A midway stop in San Marcos is also a possibility.
"Transportation needs are the second-largest expense for Americans after housing and one-third more than what they spend on food. Lower income Americans spend more than 40 percent of their take-hope pay on transportation," according to research by the American Public Transportation Association
San Antonio residents that KENS 5 spoke to applaud the idea, hoping for a speed-pass or yearly pass for frequent riders should this project become a reality.
"There are a lot of people who commute from city to city and town to town, so I think it would be very beneficial," San Antonio resident Kayla Coker said.
Right now the fastest train in the world is Japan's bullet train which travels 200 mph.
In the U.S., Amtrack's Acela Express on the east coast is the fastest, which averages 68 mph.
"I'm from the east coast so we're used to trains and traveling using that method of travel. So, I think it would be a great idea," San Antonio resident, Ashley Onwuharonye said. "I know I don't love being stuck in the traffic out here!"
Manriquez told KENS 5 that the project will be funded by private investors. Any landowners can share their opinions on a route by visiting TransonicTransport.com. You can also suggest a new route anywhere in the U.S. or internationally.
"If it can be part of their everyday lives and they're able to depend on it, we know we did our job right," Manriquez said.
While critics argue that the logistics of building a bullet train into an already-existing infrastructure aren’t feasible, Manriquez counters that they have a plan to avoid any potential problems. He said that a big issue to look into involves heat dissipation, especially in the 100-plus degrees in South Texas. He noted that they are currently running tests in that area as well.
Another company, Lone Star Rail is further along in the planning stages to transport commuters from San Antonio to Austin. That will be a more conventional train.
Transonic Transportation has experience in pipeline projects, demolition projects and emergency management projects among others, totaling over $1 billion. This is their first attempt to construct a bullet train. Eventually, the company would like to use the train for medical transport and crop transport.