The city of Cupertino is in talks to build a Hyperloop in Apple’s backyard — and its mayor hopes Apple might help pay for it

A rendering of what the Hyperloop TT could look like.

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A rendering of what the Hyperloop TT could look like.
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HyperloopTT

  • Apple is based in Cupertino, California, which recently voted down the possibility of a “head tax” mainly affecting Apple at a city council meeting.
  • At the meeting, one city council member said he was in talks to build a hyperloop in Silicon Valley.
  • Cupertino’s mayor confirmed the talks to Business Insider.

On Tuesday night, Cupertino’s City Council voted down the possibility of a “head tax” that would mainly affect Apple.

The tax would charge any company in Cupertino with more than 99 people a per-employee cost, as opposed to the current flat $124 annual fee.

This tax would mainly hit Apple, which has 25,000 employees in Cupertino, potentially raising its local tax bill to $9.4 million from $17,000, according to a report from the council.

But beyond resistance from Apple, one surprise reason why the council might have voted it down is related to one of Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s wildest ideas: the Hyperloop.

“We are talking to hyperloop to have a line, hopefully, along Stevens Creek from Diridon Station to DeAnza College,” Cupertino City Council member Barry Chang said at Tuesday night’s meeting, according to Silicon Valley Business Journal.

“It’s in a very early discussion phase. Right now we need to see what our options are,” Cupertino Mayor Darcy Paul told Business Insider in an email. “Personally, I’d like to see forward-looking technology that is cost-effective to make and maintain.”

“But let’s say it’s a definite possibility and that we’re interested in sitting down with all of our stakeholders to get feedback, thoughts, consensus, and a good plan that gets implemented. We’re at the very beginning of discussions right now and keeping an open mind to all possibilities,” he continued.

Paul is involved in the early Hyperloop talks, according to the report, and he’s met with Hyperloop Transportation Technologies.

According to the report, Paul said during the meeting that the city council should give staff more time to come up with transportation plans that would include a partnership with Apple – and possibly fund an expensive project like the Hyperloop.

From the Business Journal report:

But [Paul] said he believes there’s a strong possibility that Silicon Valley tech companies like Apple would “heavily subsidize” construction of a cutting-edge transportation solution in their own back yard and that no new tax should be imposed until that possibility is fleshed out.

“There could be very significant amounts of private sector funds willing just to invest in an early line so that, you know, that particular sector or company can use it as a bit of a showcase,” he said.

The hyperloop is an idea first suggested by Musk, describing a high-speed system to move people from place to place using vacuum-sealed tubes. Hyperloop TT has been linked to pending hyperloop projects in China and France.

Apple Park

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YouTube/Matthew Roberts

“If you want to do this in the US, you have tedious right-of-way issues,” Hyperloop TT CEO Dirk Ahlborn told Business Insider last month. “In China or Russia, however, all it takes is someone powerful to decide that they want it, and it happens.”

Apple publicly objected to the Cupertino tax at last night’s meeting, according to The Wall Street Journal. Last year, Apple opened a campus in the city that was estimated to cost $5 billion to construct. Nearby Mountain View is considering a similar tax on Google and tech companies inside its city limits.

Stevens Creek Boulevard is adjacent to Apple's new campus, Apple Park.

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Stevens Creek Boulevard is adjacent to Apple’s new campus, Apple Park.
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Google Maps

“We respectfully request that you take no action at this time,” Apple director of state and local government affairs Michael Foulkes said, according to The Journal.

Cupertino City Council member Barry Chang didn’t immediately return a request for additional information. Apple didn’t reply to an email. The CEO of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, Dirk Ahlborn, couldn’t be immediately reached.

Apple reported earnings on Tuesday of $2.34 per share on revenue of $53.3 billion on its most recent quarter ending in June. Apple is the most valuable publicly traded U.S. company, valued at just under $1 trillion in market cap.