Communities are increasingly choosing passenger rail as a way to move people safely and efficiently, stimulate the economy and help revitalize neighborhoods, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) revealed today at its Commuter Rail/Rail Transit Conference.
More than 3 billion passengers use some form of rail service annually, according to APTA. Between 1990 and 2000, total ridership for all forms of passenger rail increased by more than 18%.
"Passenger rail service is vital to America's future," said APTA Chairman Peter Cipolla. "It's popular because it works, providing greater options, benefits and opportunities for people in a wide variety of metropolitan areas."
Since 1990, rail ridership has increased by more than half a billion passengers and the total number of systems has grown by nearly 50%, from 36 to 54 today. Currently, 46 new rail systems are planned or in development, increasing the total to 100. Congress has also authorized funding for additional rail service, which could cause the number of systems to double during the next decade.
Recent studies show that rail systems stimulate economic development, with a return on investment as high as 6 to 1.
"We've shown that if you build it, people don't just come -- they prosper," said APTA President William Millar. "Investing in new rail transportation not only increases access and choice for people traveling to school and work, but it also creates and sustains jobs, invigorates urban areas, increases tourism, expands the tax base and makes cities more liveable."
APTA's Commuter Rail/Rail Transit Conference is being held this week in Baltimore.