Studies Supporting Rail
As the average number of miles driven by Americans heads into its eighth year of decline, a new report from the U.S. PIRG Education Fund finds that the slowdown in driving is likely to continue. Baby Boomers are moving out of the phase in their life when they do the most commuting, while driving-averse Millennials move into that phase. These demographic changes and other factors will likely keep driving down for decades, according to the report.
This study, undertaken by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, shows that most airports have seen a reduction in scheduled domestic flights over the past six years as a result of a difficult global economic climate and a U.S. recession, high and volatile fuel prices, and a recent trend of “capacity discipline” strategies by major airlines. The nation’s small- and medium-sized airports have been disproportionally affected by these reductions in service, and recent airline behavior appears to signal a trend towards consolidation of service at the largest airports with fewer direct flights available from smaller airports.
Thomas Dorsey, SoulOfAmerica, March 2013. 7-part series with a host of arguments for building new high-speed rail lines, following the model of the Interstate Highway System, to supplement existing passenger service the same way the Interstates supplemented the pre-existing US Highway network.
Environmental Law & Policy Center, February 2013. 28-page report detailing the supply chain that has developed to support passenger rail in the Midwest, highlighting potential benefits to the U.S. manufacturing that would come with increased investment in trains.
Opportunity Cost of Inaction: High-Speed Rail and High-Performance Passenger Rail in the United States
American Public Transportation Association, July 2012. 30-page report detailing the cost savings in highway and aviation construction and maintenance, and the mobility and economic benefits, that would come from a more robust intercity passenger train network in the US.
Amtrak Product Development Chief Brian Rosenwald's April 2012 Presentation to the Rail Users Network's National Conference This 16-page PDF (presented as a PowerPoint) outlines improvements that Amtrak is making to its fleet and the quality of on-board service, including food and beverage. It also has conceptual design images of the single-level dining and sleeping cars currently on order from CAF USA and scheduled to start being delivered in late 2013.
In his official blog, The Fast Lane, Secretary Ray LaHood touts passenger trains in general, and specifically the proposed train connecting Fort Worth, Oklahoma City, Newton and Kansas City. NARP President Ross Capon was one of the panelists at the April 5, 2012 symposium, organized by the Northern Flyer Alliance.
This Texas Transportation Institute study goes over the benefits of Amtrak’s Oklahoma City-Fort Worth Heartland Flyer to the economies of on-line communities and the mobility freedom of their residents, and reports the results of surveys of Flyer riders.
Based on surveys of riders on-board Amtrak’s Hiawathas and of transfer passengers at Milwaukee General Mitchell Airport Station, the Texas Transportation Institute concludes that “As part of a fully integrated multimodal intercity corridor, passenger rail can provide a number of measurable impacts on urban, regional, and national mobility,” including by giving greater Chicago more access to (often less expensive) air service.
After monitoring levels of fine particulates in the air while riding Los Angeles Metro Red Line (below ground) and Gold Line (aboveground light rail) trains, and on Southern California freeways, a University of Southern California professor concludes that, while the Red Line’s air is a bit dirtier than the Gold Line’s (and that of an average spot in metropolitan L.A.), the freeway air has “five to 10 times higher” concentrations of particulates than a typical urban site.
Transcript and link to audio recording of US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s address to NARP leaders and supporters during the Association’s 2011 Capitol Hill Reception.
Regional Passenger Rail Transport in Europe: An Overview and Comparison of Organisation and Responsibilities
This report, prepared by the German Association of Rail Passenger Authorities, details the organizational and financial differences of regional rail systems in 25 member countries of the European Union as well as Norway and Switzerland. Many thanks to our friends at the Verkehrs-Club der Schweiz for sharing this report!
This piece by Robert Rapier appeared in the Washington Post’s Outlook section on March 27, 2011. Rapier explains why gas prices are on the rise and how Europeans have been living well despite much higher gas prices for decades (a more robust passenger train and transit network is a key piece).
A study commissioned by the Michigan Department of Transporation concludes that the three Amtrak routes serving Michigan bring over $62 million in direct economic benefit to the state each year, breaking this down by route and by type of benefit.
Presentations Given to the NARP Council
Presentations and talks given by distinguished invited guest speakers before NARP’s Council of Representatives at its twice-yearly meetings:
- Henry Posner III, President of the Railroad Development Corporation and Chairman of the Iowa Interstate Railroad, on why healthy freight railroads are essential to good passenger train service.
- Marc Magliari, Amtrak Central Division Media Relations Manager, with an Amtrak Update (October 2012).
Encouraged by the high-speed rail funds in the Recovery Act, a group of state legislators, business leaders and leaders of health, transit and environmental nonprofits wrote [PDF] to Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels (R) on March 27, pushing him to seek federal funding for passenger train improvements. (In a July 1 letter to NARP members in Indiana, NARP Council Member Steven Coxhead of Hammond has urged NARP members to contact the governor and state legislators directly.)
Restoring Rail Service between New Orleans and Florida
A resolution passed October 20, 2006, by the Southern Rapid Rail Transit Commission that pledges “to work with Amtrak in support of planning, funding, and implementation of new regional intercity passenger rail service east of New Orleans” and (NEW!) a letter from SRRTC to Amtrak CEO Alex Kummant urging Amtrak not to formally discontinue the Sunset Limited.An April 25, 2007 letter from SRRTC Executive Director Karen Parsons to Amtrak President and CEO Alex Kummant urging Amtrak not to formally discontinue the Sunset Limited and to work with SRRTC on establishment of corridor service. Click here to read the letter
A resolution passed by the Southern Rail Rapid Transit Commission
that pledges “to work with Amtrak in support of planning, funding, and implementation of new regional intercity passenger rail service east of New Orleans.” Click here to read the resolution (requires Adobe Reader)
Opinion polls show that Americans want more, better, faster, and convenient passenger trains. Here’s a compilation of such polls over recent years.
Dr. Vuchic is a UPS Foundation Professor of Transportation Systems Engineering and Professor of City & Regional Planning at University of Pennsylvania. He is a widely-recognized authority on intercity passenger rail. There are three letters on this page (from top to bottom): Vuchic’s May 23, 2006 letter to Mineta, Mineta’s July 3 response to Vuchic, and Vuchic’s July 28 response to Mineta and Mineta’s sucessor.
A 2003 study by the Montana Department of Transportation that outlines the economic benifits Amtrak’s Empire Builder to state of Montana
A page on the North Carolina DOT Rail website that discusses future service expansions to western and southeastern North Carolina.
Requesting full funding of Amtrak’s fiscal 2007 appropriation request.
Democratic members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure demand answers from Amtrak Chairman David Laney about the termination of David L. Gunn as Amtrak’s President and CEO.
Rep. Corrine Brown responds to Secretary Mineta’s statement that Amtrak is a “systemic failure”
Rep. Corrine Brown responds to a meeting with Chairman Laney regarding the Amtrak Board’s actions to create a subsidiary to operate the Northeast Corridor
November 22, 2004 Department of Transportation’s Office of the Inspector General (DOT-OIG) Congressionally-mandated report on the state of Amtrak.
» Letter with 21 House Republican Signatures - March 3rd, 2005
» Letter with 19 Governors’ Signatures - July 9-22, 2004
» Letter with 35 Senate Signatures - February 14, 2005
» Letter with 51 Senate Signatures - August 20, 2004
» Letter with 219 House Signatures - June 26, 2003
» Letter with 19 Senate Signatures - February 5, 2003
» Letter with 163 House Signatures - February 3, 2003
» Letter with 50 Senate Signatures - June 25, 2002
» Letter with 52 Senate Signatures - June 17, 2002
» Letter with 162 House Signatures - June 6, 2002
» Letter with 51 Senate Signatures - March 19, 2002