Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Members of Congress from Texas, Nevada, Washington State, and Massachusetts agreed on the need for robust new funding for high-speed rail at a House Transportation Committee oversight meeting.
“When it comes to high-speed rail, we see benefits in terms of economic development, in terms of safety, in terms of emissions,” Buttigieg said. “I think that there are many geographies around the U.S. that are especially suited to this.”
Reps. Marilyn Strickland (D-WA), Colin Allred (D-TX), and Dina Titus (D-NV) encouraged Buttigieg to provide robust funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) to support high-speed rail projects underway in their states.
High-speed rail projects connecting Fort Worth, Dallas, and Houston; Las Vegas and Southern California; and Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver are now in the works. A line connecting Los Angeles and San Francisco is also under construction.
Calling for Continued HSR Funding
“The time for investments in these kinds of projects is now,” Allred said. “If you recall, House Democrats in 2021 provided $10 billion in funding for high-speed rail projects. I just wonder how we can work with your department to ensure that we’re providing sufficient levels of funding for these projects as we continue to implement the IIJA?”
In response, Buttigieg praised the emerging projects and indicated that the Department of Transportation is considering investing in multiple high-speed rail projects with funds from the Federal-State Partnership National Program, a $12 billion program for intercity passenger rail projects.
“I believe that there are the means within IIJA to fund more than one high-speed rail project with this authorization — in the five-year life of this bill — and I think that the success of those projects will be an important part of how future potential investments can be justified,” Buttigieg said.
During a House appropriations hearing in May 2022, Buttigieg stated, “we’re hopeful that through this infrastructure law, we can establish in at least two or three geographies, not a full national network, but — in at least two or three geographies — something that will demonstrate that we can do [high-speed rail] just as well as anyone else in the world.”
More Grants Coming Soon?
Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA), one of the most vocal high-speed rail advocates in Congress, encouraged Buttigieg to deliver quickly on the Administration’s high-speed rail goal. Buttigieg indicated that high-speed rail grants are on the way soon.
“There are a small number but a very real and compelling number of [high-speed rail] projects that are currently in process for competitive grants that will be announced soon,” Buttigieg responded. “I don’t have news to make today on that, but what I can tell you is that high-speed rail projects are in the mix for the non-NEC Fed-State Partnership funds and I believe many of them have a compelling case to make.”
“Seeing is believing — you often say that,” Moulton said in response. “We’ve got to get high-speed trains that people can actually see and ride like they have in the rest of the world.”