President Biden's Infrastructure Plan
Yesterday, March 31, the Biden Administration released the American Jobs Plan, a proposal for strengthening our nation’s infrastructure. The $2.2 trillion plan calls for $85 billion to expand and modernize public transit, as well as $80 billion for passenger and freight rail service. The funding would be spread out over 8 years, which represents a 400% increase in federal investment for passenger rail and doubling the investment in transit.
This would be a level of investment not seen since the creation of the interstate highways and it provides an opportunity to reimagine transportation in America. We are excited by the proposal’s commitment to fast, frequent and affordable trains, and strongly support funding for electrified intercity rail and upgrades to commuter rail around the country.
The $80 billion for passenger and freight rail service will provide a reliable funding stream for the rest of the decade, something that passenger and freight rail don’t currently have access to. Funding would go towards Amtrak’s repair backlog, modernizing the Northeast Corridor, improving existing corridors and connecting new city pairs. Funding would also be provided to the enhance grant and loan programs that support passenger rail and freight rail safety, efficiency and electrification.
In response to the American Jobs Plan, Amtrak released their vision to grow rail service and connect new city pairs across America. This includes establishing service on over 30 new routes, which would reach 160+ communities and unserved major cities such as Las Vegas, Nashville, Madison, Columbus and Phoenix. It also proposes enhancing 20+ existing routes with better service to cities like Houston, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and many more. Amtrak estimates that their plan would expand or improve rail service for 20 million more riders.
In addition to funding for intercity rail, it is encouraging to see a proposed $85 billion investment for modernizing existing public transit and for transit expansion. This funding will go towards replacing buses and rail cars, as well as repairing stations, and thousands of miles of track, signals and power systems in need of replacement. It will also bring bus, bus rapid transit and rail service to communities and neighborhoods across the country, many of which lack reliable service.
The proposal comes at a time when we have seen momentum building for a large investment in high-speed, regional and commuter rail. Other legislation that would invest in passenger rail includes; the Intercity Passenger Rail Trust Fund Act, the American High-Speed Rail Act and the High-Speed Corridor Development Act. If passed these bills would provide dedicated funding for Amtrak, a $205 billion plan that creates a blueprint for a national high-speed rail network and a bill that would authorize funding for capital projects in federally designated high-speed rail corridors.
All of the proposed legislation we have seen in the last few months provide a valuable framework for Congress to build off of as they seek to pass an infrastructure bill. As supporters of fast, frequent and reliable trains, we need to continue reaching out to our elected officials to keep the momentum going.