Report: Transit Not Traffic

The Right Track

Building a 21st Century High Speed Rail System for America

America’s highways and airports are increasingly congested. Our nation’s transportation system remains dependent on oil. And our existing transportation infrastructure is inadequate to the demands of the 21st century.

Intercity passenger rail can help America address each of these challenges. Most major industrialized countries have (or are now building) well-functioning intercity rail systems. High-speed trains traveling from 125 mph to 200 mph or more have long served residents of Europe and Japan, and China is currently in the midst of building a $293 billion, 10,000-mile high speed rail system.

Now, for the first time, the federal government has invested significant resources toward the development of high-speed rail in the United States, with an $8 billion allocation in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and $2.5 billion more in Congress’ fiscal year 2010 budget.  States across the country are hungry for improved passenger rail. Indeed, states have requested seven times more money for passenger rail improvements than was allocated under ARRA. And that figure does not include many other important and worthwhile projects that were not requested because they were further away from being “shovel-ready.”

State requests for passenger rail funding under ARRA—coupled with the broader agenda for high-speed rail development articulated by the Obama administration—present a powerful vision for the future of transportation in America, touching virtually every region of the country.

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