Tuesday, February 3, 2009

RPA On The Cascading Benefits Of Improving the Northeast Corridor

Improvements to Amtrak's inter-city rail system will also help every single commuter rail system in the region. Seven different commuter rail lines share the tracks and corridor that Amtrak uses. Last year, Amtrak carried 13 million people on the Northeast corridor between Boston and Washington DC. That's a lot of people. But the commuter rail systems carried more than 200 million passengers. That's even more people. In fact, it's 75 percent of all the commuter rail ridership in the nation.

Second, making the Northeast corridor lines faster and more reliable would induce more people to choose rail over air for travel within the megaregion. This in turn would free up valuable space in our overcrowded Northeast airports, making landing slots available for more economically valuable, longer-haul flights. Passenger rail already accounts for nearly two-thirds of the combined air/rail market between New York and Washington and half of the market between New York and Boston. Bringing both of these shares to close to 100 percent, as is the case between many European city-pairs at this distance, would make a lot of sense.

Right now, 20 percent of all the flights out of the New York metro airports are less than 350 miles, the majority of which are to two destinations, Boston and DC. More than 150 daily flights from the New York metro area are destined for Boston and Washington. Faster, more frequent and more reliable Amtrak service would make rail competitive with these short-haul flights, particularly for time-conscious business travelers.

Third and finally, track improvements will not only increase speed, they will also add capacity. They will enable millions of additional people to travel along and within this corridor, which in turn, will enable the Northeast to absorb more gracefully the additional 16 million people expected here by mid-century. Improving the central train corridor of the Northeast is not only an economic development tool, not only a quality of life tool, it's a central part of a long-term growth plan for the region. And part of that growth plan should be a lower carbon footprint for the region, something better rail travel is an integral part of.
Worth reading.

1 comment:

Tom Christoffel said...

Google’s Blog alert sent me to this post because of the term “meagregion.” This post should be useful to subscribers of Regional Community Development News, so I will include a link to it in the February 11 issue. The newsletter will be found at http://regional-communities.blogspot.com/ Please visit, check the tools and consider a link. Tom