Hyperloop CEO: 'We're trying to make travel suck less'

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies CEO Dirk Ahlborn says that the high-speed technology could make public transport systems across the world faster and more cost effective.

“We’re trying to make travel suck less,” he explained, during the DLD conference in New York on Tuesday. “We’re trying to fix public transport.”

Unveiled amid much fanfare by SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk in 2013, Hyperloop aims to transport people (and cars) at speeds of up to  800 mph. Using Hyperloop, for example, passengers could one day make the journey between San Francisco and Los Angeles in 30 minutes.

Hyperloop will use sleek pods that hover on a thin cushion of air as they shoot through low-pressure tubes, sped forward by electromagnets.

Related: MIT wins design competition for Elon Musk's Hyperloop

During an on-stage discussion with Jennifer Dungs of mobility and engineering systems specialist Fraunhofer IAO, Ahlborn explained that public transportation systems all over the world are losing money.

“Speed is one of the advantages [of Hyperloop], but it’s not the only one,” he said. “Building something that has economic sense, that has a good business model behind it, for me, is even more important.”

The tubes, which are supported by pylons, offer lower construction and land acquisition costs than railways, according to Hyperloop Transportation Technologies. Described as a self-sufficient system, Hyperloop will draw power from solar panels.

Related: Hoverboard company Arx Pax touts hover engines for Elon Musk's Hyperloop

Other methods could also be used to reduce public transport costs. “Do we need a ticket? Or is there a better way to monetize?” asked Ahlborn.

The CEO explained that Hyperloop Transport Technologies recently signed an agreement with the government of Slovakia, which could one day use the system to connect Bratislava with Budapest and Vienna. The company is also having discussions in India and Asia, he said.

Last year the company announced an agreement to build the first Hyperloop system in Quay Valley, Calif. Ahlborn told FoxNews.com Hyperloop expects to break ground on the 5-mile test track this year.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers