APTA: Investing in U.S. high-speed rail to net $26.4B

Posted on July 10, 2012

A new American Public Transportation Association (APTA) report, “Opportunity Cost of Inaction: High-Speed Rail and High Performance Passenger Rail Service,” released at a Congressional briefing by APTA on Tuesday, shows that building a high-speed rail program in the U.S. results in $26.4 billion in net benefits over the next 40 years.

According to the report, the U.S. Census estimates the population will grow by more than 100 million people in the next 40 years. As the population grows, increased pressure will be placed on the nation’s already crumbling infrastructure. With a complementary high-speed rail service, this will help mitigate the cost of maintenance, replacement and the capacity expansion needs of airport runways, highways and roadways. In many cases expansion will be difficult because of the lack of land mass.

“As we look at the implementation of high-speed rail in America, we must recognize the value it brings to help sustain and complement our other modes of transportation,” said APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy. “It is critical that policy makers take a leadership role in moving high-speed rail forward to capture the billions of dollars of economic, mobility, energy and environmental benefits.”

The report shows investment in high-speed and high performance passenger rail not only aids in solving our capacity issues, but helps mitigate overall transportation costs and helps our roadways and airports work more efficiently.

The strain on our transportation system by travelers will result in increased congestion and delays which will lead to billions of dollars lost in a globally competitive market.

“By building high-speed rail, we not only offer mobility benefits to those who ride the rails, but to those who continue to fly or drive by helping to alleviate the strain on our overburdened network,” said Melaniphy.

The net benefit to investing in the California region is $8.2 billion over 40 years; the Midwest is $11.7 billion; the Northwest Corridor is $5.5 billion; and the Pacific Northwest is $1.1 billion.

Additional factors in determining the net benefits include economic output generated, tax revenue generated, emissions savings and others. Numerous additional social and mobility benefits are not quantified in the report.

“This study quantifies just the tip of the iceberg and is a very conservative estimate of the net benefits resulting from implementing high performance trains in America,” said Melaniphy. “We must recognize the positive growth potential and benefits high-speed rail can provide to our citizens.”

In addition to APTA releasing the report to Congress, railway representatives from eight countries were on Capitol Hill Tuesday to brief members of Congress on the high-speed rail industry worldwide. These leaders were in Washington, D.C. as part of the UIC 8th World Congress on High-Speed Rail, which begins the following day in Philadelphia.

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