This past week United Airlines announced plans to cut 60% of its flights out of Cleveland in the next year. This is especially bad news in today’s economy where cities need to connect to opportunities around the country and across the globe to be economically competitive. Cleveland now is suffering from a lack from a lack of transportation choices, that it can’t afford.

At the Midwest High Speed Rail Association, we envision a brighter reality – with Cleveland as an economically vibrant, global city. MHSRA has studied what would happen if high-speed trains connected Cleveland to regional cities like Chicago, Cincinnati, and Toronto. The results are astounding.

A single high-speed line to Chicago and Detroit will attract two million passengers to Cleveland each year, which will help supplement the declining number of nine million annual airline passengers. If additional lines to Cincinnati, Toronto, and New York are built, Cleveland will become a major transit hub, with travelers connecting to destinations across the region, by train.

By building just the first line to Chicago, Cleveland will gain 6,685 new jobs and reap billions of dollars in user, environmental, and congestion benefits. It will also increase economic growth by 0.71% each year. Building the entire network would provide exponentially more benefits.

Investing in rail technology will create much-needed high paying manufacturing jobs, that Cleveland would be well positioned to attract. Beyond all these benefits, high-speed rail has the potential to recast Cleveland’s image and improve its long-term economic potential.

Trains would stop at Cleveland Hopkins Airport and Downtown, which would funnel greater numbers of people to the airport, making Cleveland a more attractive destination for airlines.

By bringing people together, high-speed trains can to truly transform Cleveland’s future. With convenient connections to regional cities like Detroit or Indianapolis, previously impossible business meetings will happen. Fast trains will give unemployed and underemployed Clevelanders, especially from low-income areas, access to jobs they can’t reach today in the Cleveland area – or Toledo, or Columbus. Convenient transportation will bring visitors to Cleveland, and allow local residents to easily visit family or cultural attractions in cities like Pittsburgh or Cincinnati. Cleveland will become a true global city with more connections to international destinations.

Right now, there is a choice between two Clevelands. One Cleveland has high-unemployment, few new high-tech manufacturing jobs, and diminishing connections to the increasingly competitive global economy. This Cleveland cannot attract many high-skilled workers or large companies.

The other Cleveland has a growing economy, new high-skilled jobs, a revitalized downtown, and is a regional transit hub with numerous connections to the world. This Cleveland is possible if Congress chooses to make pragmatic investments in our country’s infrastructure. At the national level, there is enough funding available to transform Cleveland, as well as many other cities by connecting them with a high-speed rail network. To prepare Cleveland, and the greater Midwest for the future, our leaders need to prioritize passenger rail.


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