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Weekly Newsletter: How to increase economic growth?

March 30, 2015

Dense cities drive economic growth (and make you healthier and happier).

That is the conclusion of a recent series of studies and articles released this week (see below).

Their findings showed a direct connection between how concentrated an urban core is – and how attractive the city is to young, highly educated workers. Density was also closely related to the amount of technological and business and management jobs. With these attributes, it’s no surprise that areas with denser cores did in fact enjoy greater economic growth.

None of these findings are that surprising. Technological change and economic development have always been driven by bringing capable people together to collaborate – and that only happens if a lot of people are in close proximity.

So what does this have to do with transportation?


Awhile back I ran a newsletter about land use in Manhattan. Matt Taylor at Analysis found that to replace all inbound train traffic into Manhattan with cars, you would have to build 48 new 8-lane bridges and build parking lots covering literally the entire island. He showed density isn’t possible without trains because cars take up way too much space. Manhattan thrives by allowing a millions of people spread across an entire metro area collaborate in a relatively small area.

High-speed rail takes this a step further. It brings the density of a major city to an entire region. When someone can commute from Milwaukee to Chicago in about the time it takes to commute from one side ofManhattan to the other, the amount of people who can collaborate increases exponentially. That in turn makes everyone richer, makes both cities more attractive and brings all those other good things that come with proximity. And none of this possible with any other form of transportation.

In the end it’s a pretty simple formula. Density drives economic growth at a higher-than-average rate. Density is not possible without trains. If you want more economic activity, you’re going to need trains.

All the best,

Julius Parod
Manager of Communications

Last Week at MHSRA:

MHSRA representatives, including Executive Director Rick Harnish, traveled to Springfield to hold a press conference condemning Governor Rauner’s proposed cuts to Amtrak and Metra. They also met with key lawmakers.

The effort to bring Amtrak to Rockford is alive and well (ignore the rumors in some papers). We gathered over 200 public comments this week and have spread the word in the press. Check out an article that carried our press release in full.

The Illinois Railroad Summit is fast approaching. We’re working with allies across the state to bring stakeholders together to show support for trains. Check out the promotional flyer we’re passing out.

On the Blog:

Annual Meeting Spring Meeting Overview

Action Alert: Rockford Amtrak IS NOT Dead

Articles We Enjoyed:

Train advocate: Keep Amtrak rolling in Illinois
“We’re at a point where all these investments are about to pay off. Let’s not screw it up,” [MHSRA Executive Director] Harnish said.

The Feedback Loop That Will Make America’s Richest Cities Even Richer
“Certain multisyllabic phrases—geographic sorting, economic agglomeration, cumulative advantage—are all fancy ways of saying smart young people move toward jobs and density.”

Metra to Begin Marketing New Mobile Payment Option
First step towards regional app coordinated with CTA and Pace.

The growing distance between people and jobs in metropolitan America
If people can’t access jobs, it has the same affect as if they weren’t there to begin with.

Study: Annual Cost of Sprawl in America Adds Up to $4,500 Per Person
Trains drive density, saving people money.

Rail Advocates Fight Proposed Budget Cut
MHSRA’s Rick Harnish weighs in on proposed cuts to Amtrak.

Chuck Sweeny: Don’t hide behind Amtrak’s skirts GOP
A good breakdown of the current status of the new Chicago-Rockford line.

Upcoming Events:

April 29th - Illinois Railroad Summit in Springfield, IL. We’re inviting allies across Illinois to show how important trains are to their communities. Join us in Springfield to demonstrate your support.

A donation of $15 or more today will go directly towards educating elected officials. Can you help us move forward in 2015?

Julius Parod
Midwest High Speed Rail Association
4765 N. Lincoln Ave.
Chicago, IL 60625
Join today at