With a call to "Keep High-Speed Rail Moving," a national coalition of rail, transportation and consumer advocacy organizations called on Congress to increase the high-speed rail FY2011 appropriation to $4 billion to modernize U.S. transportation, stimulate economic and job growth, and advance energy policy. The coalition also seeks full funding of Amtrak at $2.6 billion.
"High speed rail is a long-term investment in our nation's economic prosperity and competitiveness," said Petra Todorovich, director of America 2050. "By serving dense job centers and connecting to regional and local transit, high-speed rail can act as the framework for sustainable, transit-oriented growth in the 21st century."
In addition to the increased mobility and improved national transportation network brought about by high speed rail, studies and estimates from around the country compiled by the coalition show investing in the technology could generate more than two million U.S. jobs, avoid 11 million tons of emissions annually and cut the nation's oil dependence by nearly 600 million gallons each year, according to the coalition.
Participants in the rally at Washington's Union Station praised President Obama for jumpstarting a renaissance of American rail with $8 billion under the stimulus and Congress for last year more than doubling his proposed annual appropriation to $2.5 billion.
Intercity passenger rail accounts for only 2 percent of all Federal transportation spending. The U.S. House last year voted to allocate $4 billion, but the Senate only agreed to $2.5 billion. In addition, Amtrak was funded $400 million less than requested.
"The quicker we build the system, the sooner America will enjoy the benefits," said John Krieger, Federal Transportation Policy Analyst for U.S. PIRG. "High-speed rail requires long-term commitment from all levels of government, including at least $4 billion from Congress in 2011."