Monday, June 14, 2010

Conference of Mayors report lauds HSR

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The U.S. Conference of Mayors Monday released a new report stressing the positive impact of high speed rail on various U.S. corridors, citing four specific cities as examples. The four cities—Los Angeles, Chicago, Orlando, Fla., and Albany, N.Y. —could significantly benefit from high speed rail (HSR) with as many as 150,000 new jobs and some $19 billion in new business revenues created in total, the report said.

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Prepared by the Economic Development Research Group and sponsored by Siemens Mobility, the report, conducted from January through May of 2010, assessed high speed intercity passenger rail’s economic impact on the city,metropolitan, and regional economies.  It examined job creation, the effects of improved market access, greater connectivity, work-related travel time savings, and increased income and business sales.

The full report can be accessed at usmayors.org/highspeedrail

Specific findings show that HSR in the U.S. could significantly increase jobs and business sales if fully implemented as planned by 2035. Higher potential impacts were noted when travel times between cities were reduced to under three hours.

The study also demonstrated that HSR service could help drive higher-density, mixed-use development projects surrounding the stations, ranging from current station additions in Chicago, to new hotel development in Orlando and Albany, as well as additional large-scale developments adjacent to Union Station in Los Angeles. Such local development, the report says, could help create approximately 30,000 new jobs across these four cities alone.

“Transportation is the backbone of America’s economy,” said Tom Cochran, CEO and executive director of The United States Conference of Mayors. “Our country cannot successfully compete in the global economy if we fail to invest adequately in our domestic transportation infrastructure, particularly in cities and their metropolitan areas —which underpin so much of our country's economic input.  And that investment should include dedicated federal funding for high speed intercity passenger rail service in the pending authorization of the federal surface transportation law.”

Total new business and job growth projections, as provided by the report, include:

                 In Los Angeles, up to $7.6 billion per year innew business, including $4.3 billion per year in Gross Regional Product (GRP) growth and up to 55,000 jobs.

                 In Chicago, up to $6.1 billion per year in new business, including up to $3.6 billion per year in GRP growth and up to 42,000 jobs.

                 In Orlando, up to $2.9 billion per year in new business, including up to $1.7 billion per year in GRP growth and up to 27,500 jobs.

                 In Albany, up to $2.5 billion per year in new business, including up to $1.4 billion per year in GRP growth and up to 21,000 jobs.

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Additionally, HSR’s projected larger flow of passengers will lead to increased tourism and business travel, generating additional spending at local hotels, restaurants, and retail stores. Projections show that by 2035, HSR can annually add roughly $255 million in the Orlando area; $147 million in the Los Angeles area; more than $100 million in the Albany-Saratoga area; and $42 million in the Chicago area.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are 1,204 suchcities in the country today. Each city is represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the mayor. More information about the Conference is available at usmayors.org.