High-Speed Rail Championed in DC
It was an exciting day on May 6th for high-speed rail advocates. A hearing on the opportunities and challenges facing high-speed rail was held by the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure. There were many champions for the game-changing power of high-speed rail among the elected officials, agencies, non-profits and private companies that spoke throughout the day.
Highlights from the Hearing:
- Congressman Seth Moulton’s (D, MA) passion and understanding of high-speed rail stood out as he chaired the hearing for part of the day and asked pointed questions to the few skeptics in the room. We applaud his leadership today and the blueprint he’s laid out in his proposed legislation for a $205 billion investment in high-speed rail. Please let him know we appreciate his leadership!
- Congressman Peter D. Fazio (D, OR) discussed past investments in rail and why we don’t have passenger rail comparable to the rest of the world. “Since WWII: $2 trillion into highways; $777 billion into aviation; $90 billion into rail…then we wonder why we have a decrepit rail network."
- Phillip Washington, CEO of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, spoke about the importance and capability of a high-speed rail network to connect rural areas to the urban core, connecting citizens to affordable housing with access to jobs and to support American manufacturing.
- Congressman Rodney Davis (R, IL) asked smart questions about policy that can speed up the design and construction phases for high-speed rail. As well as how Congress can encourage investments in the latest high-speed rail technology. Some policy recommendations were to front load the design process and giving power to the states to conduct the studies, which has worked in California.
- John Porcari, former Deputy Secretary of the US Department of Transportation, spoke about creating a national passenger rail trust fund and said every transportation revenue source should be a candidate to fund it.
- William J. Flynn, CEO of Amtrak, discussed their plans to implement 110-125 mph frequent service around the country and identifying corridors where high-speed lines could connect to those regional lines. This is the integrated network approach that we have been calling for and seen implemented successfully around the world.
- Congressman Jesus “Chuy” Garcia brought up the issue of establishing dedicated funding for high-speed and intercity rail. He also focused on the environmental benefits that will come from investments in passenger rail
This is just a small section of all the good questions and quotes supporting high-speed rail that came out during the hearing. Watch the hearing here.
This hearing comes at a critical moment in time for the future of passenger rail. A sizable infrastructure bill is being discussed in Congress and we have seen an influx of proposed legislation that provide a valuable framework for investing in high-speed, regional and commuter rail. It was exciting to see a serious discussion today about how to seize this opportunity.