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Two Great Chinese Cities

An experiment in city integration between Shanghai and Hangzhou

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Improving on the New Urbanization Plan

Shanghai workers are plagued by congestion and long commute times; in 2014, they spent an average of 47 minutes commuting.

As China embarks to make its mega-regions more interconnected, it will look to move workers outside of the city to relieve them of expensive housing markets, congestion and pollution. Why should they spend 47 minutes commuting within a city when they could spend a third of the time on Hyperloop at a similar cost and travel 180 km (110 mi.) to a neighboring satellite city? 

Hyperloop will enable the 180 km link between Shanghai and Hangzhou, to connect one of Asia's most bustling financial districts with a smaller and more peaceful satellite city. 

The 2014 New Urbanization Plan writes that future development should "promote the spread of central city functions to areas one hour away. They shall also foster and form metropolitan areas with efficient commuting and integrated development." The model proposed by the Chinese government was based on the foreseeably feasible transportation systems when the plan was conceived. High speed rail, at 125 miles per hour, will surely enable cities to be dependent on one another, but it is dubious as to how much they will relieve each city’s burdens of production; pollution and congestion. With Hyperloop, intercity dependence can be expanded one step further. At high speeds of 750 mph, it will become possible for people to work in megacities such as Shanghai, and then return to live in satellite cities hundreds of miles away in less than thirty minutes.

This model improves on two areas of focus in China’s New Urbanization Plan. First, it relieves megacities of congestion. Already in 2014, people inShanghai commuted an average of 47 minutes each way, often to and from areas deep in the city’s sprawl. This method is unsustainable as China’s urban population growth will continue to outstrip transportation capacity.Furthermore, commuting 47 minutes within the city means that the environmental burdens of working and living fall entirely on one city. Traveling 23.5 minutes, which is half of the average commute in Shanghai, with Hyperloop crosses 295 miles (475 km). Such a distance can sufficiently dissipate the air pollution, considering that China seeks to reach peak emissions before 2030. Hyperloop will also help accelerate this as it not only uses four times less energy per passenger than high speed rail, but since its roof is lined with solar panels, it leaves an energy surplus.  Just imagine, ten minutes on the Hyperloop will travel 112 miles (180 km), and thirty minutes, 336 miles (540 km). The fruits of living in a megacity, whether they are concentrated innovation or greater productivity - will be shared in a matter of minutes by areas hundreds of miles and beyond.