The Eno Center for Transportation’s new report, “Saving Time and Making Cents: A Blueprint for Building Transit Better,” analyzes current and historical trends to understand the drivers behind mass transit construction, cost, and delivery in the U.S. and abroad.
A comprehensive database of available data and metrics compares investments between U.S. cities and peers in Western Europe. The resulting federalist agenda for both policy and practice aims to shift the current national conversation from simply diagnosing problems to identifying and implementing opportunities to deliver better and more cost-effective projects.
“If we are going to make a dent on climate, if we are going to deal with traffic congestion, if we are going to make sure people have access to jobs and opportunity, we are going to need more and better transit. And we’re not going to get more if we can’t figure out how to build transit in a timely and cost-effective way,” said Robert Puentes, president and CEO of the Eno Center for Transportation.
Findings of the report include:
- The U.S. pays an average premium of 50% to build transit for both at-grade and tunneled projects, compared to peer projects in Western Europe.
- The tunneling premium in the U.S. rises to roughly 250% when New York City’s disproportionately expensive projects are included.
- Just 12% of the U.S. rail transit projects in our database were constructed primarily below ground, compared to 37% of non-U.S. projects.
- Many international projects constructed below-grade have similar costs to those that are at-grade in the U.S.
- Many international projects run through dense city centers and are often more complex, with more stations that are built closer together than U.S. projects, often run through dense historic city centers.
- U.S. projects with minimal tunneling take about 6 months longer to construct than non-U.S. projects.
- U.S. projects that are almost all underground take nearly 18 months longer to build.
- U.S. projects tend to be routed along “paths of least resistance” such as freight rail or highway corridors, specifically intended to limit impacts on the local community and minimize the need to acquire private property.
To view the full report, including Eno’s policy and practice recommendations, click here.