University of Illinois Chicago Report on Benefits of High Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail Projects in the US
By the Urban Transportation Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago
A new report released by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) provides a framework for assessing the return on investment associated with high-speed and intercity passenger rail projects.
By Global Railway Review, 9 October 2017
The report, named ‘Framework for Assessing the ROI for High-Speed and Intercity Rail Projects’ is an initiative of APTA’s High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail Committee and was authored by The Urban Transportation Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago, with EDR Group, Boston, MA.
Taking into account the full range of local community effects, regional connectivity and global competitiveness effect, the report also considers the broader consideration of the public’s desire to meet and exceed longer term environmental, economic and mobility goals for future generations.
“This study brings important measurement elements together which will help reveal the true value of these rail projects”
“For communities to get a complete picture of high-speed and intercity passenger rail and its benefits, the analysis should involve a combination of methods including a cost-benefit, an economic impact, and a social impact analysis,” said Anna Barry of the Connecticut DOT and the Chair of the APTA High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail Committee. “This study brings important measurement elements together which will help reveal the true value of these rail projects.”
The report states that intercity passenger rail demand in the United States has shown an unprecedented surge in the new millennium with Amtrak, the primary intercity rail service provider, reporting an annual ridership of more than 31 million in 2016, which is 1.5 times what it was in 2000.
With the nation’s highways and airways stressed to near capacity, many Americans are discovering that intercity passenger rail, and the promise of high-speed passenger rail service are attractive alternatives.
Prominent examples include the California, Texas, Midwest, Florida and North Carolina to Virginia initiatives the study authors noted.
“We reviewed 47 prior studies and identified a large set of benefits related to economic, social, and environmental impacts that can apply specifically to high-speed rail and intercity rail projects,” added Charles Quandel of Quandel Consultants and a member of the Technical Review Team. “This study lays out a framework for quantifying and monitising benefits from policy perspectives that are relevant for constructing a business case for these rail projects.”
The report authors emphasise that while there is continuing interest in high-speed and intercity passenger rail projects, the report addresses the wide disparities in how project investment benefits are measured. It goes beyond prior studies by providing consistency as to what benefit and cost elements to consider.