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Hyperloop One doesn’t have a hyperloop — but it now has D.C. lobbyists

The company might be looking to capitalize on the Trump administration.

 A rendering of the Hyperloop Technologies hyperloop
A rendering of the Hyperloop Technologies hyperloop
Hyperloop One

Hyperloop One has encountered its fair share of obstacles in recent years — from lawsuits involving its founders to troubles in turning its vision for high-speed transport into reality.

But the company might be looking to catch something of a break in an unlikely place: President Donald Trump’s Washington.

In February, the company quietly hired its first lobbyists in the nation’s capital, a group of well-wired former Republican congressional staffers with the outside firm Jochum Shore & Trossevin. The lobbyists have been tapped for the purpose of “educating policymakers on new innovations in transportation,” according to a federal ethics disclosure filed Thursday.

Hyperloop One offers no other information about its political agenda, and the company’s general counsel, Marvin Ammori, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Still, the company might be sensing an opportunity with Trump, who has committed publicly to pushing a major infrastructure reform bill — and spending “big,” as he put it in February, in the process.

One of Trump’s closest Silicon Valley advisers is none other than Elon Musk, the SpaceX and Tesla founder who has mused about using low-pressure tubes to transport people over long distances in little time. Musk isn’t part of Hyperloop One, but the company’s chief executive, Rob Lloyd, told Bloomberg last month that the relationship between Musk, other private sector leaders and the new GOP president could yield “an era of upgrades that will come from private as well as public funding into infrastructure in the United States, which hasn’t been the case for decades.”

That said, there’s always a fear about regulation. Outgoing Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, who served in the Obama administration, told my colleague Johana Bhuiyan on the Recode Decode podcast in January that hyperloop is an area where the “technology may be there before the government is.” As companies test their services — potentially, in other countries — Foxx specifically highlighted the need for Congress to get involved before any hyperloop service could truly take root in the United States.

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