Travelling between two cities that are hours apart by car in just under 30 minutes may sound like science fiction – but one company says it’s close to making this pipe dream a reality.    

“We’re actually closer than you might think,” Hyperloop One CEO Rob Lloyd, who is a Montreal, Que. native, told BNN in an interview. “We are actually in the process of construction of a full-scale prototype just north of Las Vegas.”

Tesla CEO Elon Musk first dreamt up the Hyperloop – a low-pressure tube system that can travel at the speed of sound –in 2012.  

Lloyd’s firm, which formed in February 2015 and now employs close to 200 people, hopes to have an operational system that mirrors Musk’s vision in place by 2020. It is currently building a full-scale system with a custom-designed linear electric motor.

“We are not a car, we are not a train, we are not a plane – we are all of those,” Lloyd said.

The private company claims the Hyperloop would send passengers between Toronto and Ottawa – normally a four-and-a-half-hour drive — in under 30 minutes.  

Lloyd said Hyperloop One has raised $130 million to build the prototype and that they will seek to raise capital next year.  The cost would be about $100 billion for a 100 km-project, Lloyd said, which works out to be roughly the distance between Toronto and the Kitchener-Waterloo area.

Although the Hyperloop is a costly endeavor, Lloyd said the system is less expensive and intrusive than a train or underground metro system because it’s smaller, there’s no noise and there’s no resistance.

The Hyperloop “really does change everything about the meaning of a city,” Lloyd said of the ability to travel between places more quickly, making it more feasible to live in one city and work in another.

In addition to raising capital, the company would need to discuss its plans with regulators and governments, meetings Lloyd said his company is already having in a number of cities around the world.

Lloyd said Hyperloop One plans to spend 2017 looking for three cities where the system would provide the most “economic value.”

“We’re not trying to build a ride at Disney,” he said. “We are trying to really change people’s lives and improve our planet where governments are behind us.” 

An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported the cost of a proposed 100-km Hyperloop project would be $100 billion. The actual cost of a proposed 100-km Hyperloop project would be 1.5 billion.