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America 2050 released the following statement today on the release of the California High-Speed Rail Authority's revised business plan.

California High-Speed Rail System Potential PhasingAmerica 2050 released the following statement today on the California High-Speed Rail Authority's revised business plan:

Governor Jerry Brown and the California High-Speed Rail Authority are to be commended on the revised 2012 draft business plan for high-speed rail, which cuts the project's cost by $30 billion while making numerous improvements to previous proposals.

The revised plan is more cost-effective and is phased in a way that will bring benefits sooner to the urbanized regions of the state, including the San Francisco Bay Area and the Los Angeles Basin. It directs funding toward electrifying the high-volume CalTrain corridor on the San Francisco peninsula, reducing pollution, noise and travel times of commuter rail, and makes safety and reliability upgrades to the Amtrak-Metrolink corridor between Los Angeles and Anaheim. These improvements will benefit existing commuters and will clear a path for integration with high-speed trains in the future. In addition, the plan proposes an Initial Operating Segment, which can be completed in the first 10 years, stretching 300 miles from California's fast-growing Central Valley to the San Fernando Valley at the gateway to the Los Angeles basin.

(New York, NY) - Today U.S. DOT Secretary Ray LaHood announced grant awards for fifteen states and Amtrak for high-speed and passenger rail. The money awarded, $2 billion in total, is funding that was reallocated after Florida Governor Rick Scott cancelled the state's high-speed rail project. America 2050 today released the following statement on the U.S. Department of Transportation's high-speed and intercity passenger rail grants:

"With gas prices on the rise, Americans are looking for alternatives to driving and flying. Today, fifteen states and Amtrak received grant awards that will enable them to expand and improve passenger rail service, providing a safe and convenient travel option that does not rely on imported oil," said Petra Todorovich, director, America 2050. "It's mystifying that Congress moved recently to cut new funding for high-speed rail for the remainder of 2011, given the strong interest by 24 states in expanding their rail service, as demonstrated in this round of grant making. The fact that the U.S. DOT was only able to fund one-fifth of the $10 billion worth of projects applied for in this round shows that there is pent up demand for improved rail service around the country."

scott.jpgAmerica 2050 released the following statement regarding Florida Governor Rick Scott's decision to cancel the Tampa-Orlando high-speed rail project:

"Today Florida Governor Rick Scott announced the state would turn away $2.4 billion in federal funding for a long-planned Tampa-to-Orlando high-speed rail line," said Petra Todorovich, director, America 2050. "In doing so he gives up hundreds of millions of dollars of private investment and an immediate plan to create thousands of construction jobs, boost Florida's tourism economy, and create capacity for economic growth. It is difficult to understand how this short-sighted decision will help rebuild Florida's economy."

In his comments today Governor Scott makes a false argument saying ridership potential on the Tampa-to-Orlando route does not exist because projections are the same as the most heavily travelled market in the nation - Amtrak's Acela service, which attracts 3.2 million riders annually. It is highly relevant and important to note that Amtrak's Acela service runs at capacity. Amtrak's total ridership on the corridor (Acela and Regional combined) is over 12 million per year. Additional ridership is constrained by congestion from commuter trains, which comprise 250 million passengers a year on the same rail corridor stretching from Boston to Washington, D.C.

"This decision appears to be politically motivated given the clear benefits the project would have brought to the state of Florida, local support for the project and the fact that the corridor was the most feasible in the nation given project readiness and public ownership of the right of way for the initial segment," said Bob Yaro, co-chair, America 2050.  "Governor Scott's announcement comes on the heels of President Obama's 2012 budget to Congress, which included an ambitious proposal for a 6-year, $556 billion surface transportation program, including $53 billion for high-speed rail."

America 2050 looks forward to working with federal officials in identifying where the job-growth federal monies can go. While Florida's route was most feasible and ready-to-go, investment in many other corridors, including those in the Midwest, California, and Northeast, will underpin long-term economic growth and success.

High-Speed Rail in America

A new study released today by America 2050 identifies the high-speed rail corridors with the greatest potential to attract ridership in each of the nation's megaregions.  Corridors connecting populous regions with large job centers, rail transit networks, and existing air markets scored best. The study also recommends that the federal government adopt a quantitative approach to evaluating future investment in high-speed rail.

Download the Press Release.

The 56-page study, entitled, "High-Speed Rail in America," cites ridership potential as the number one factor in determining if a corridor is suitable for investment, identifies the specific conditions that generate ridership demand, and scores each corridor according to strength in those areas.  The top performing corridors in each region determined to have the greatest potential demand for high-speed rail ridership include corridors such as: New York-Washington, DC; Chicago-Milwaukee; Los Angeles-San Diego; Tampa (via Orlando) to Miami; Dallas-Houston; Atlanta-Birmingham; Portland-Seattle; and Denver-Pueblo. 

Download the report after the break.

America 2050 joined over a dozen national and regional advocacy groups and the campaign today at Washington's D.C.'s Union Station to call on Congress to raise the high-speed rail appropriation to $4 billion, along with full funding of Amtrak at $2.6 billion.

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(New York, NY) President Obama's expected announcement in Tampa tomorrow of proposed high-speed rail investments is a critical step toward implementing the long-term infrastructure vision our nation needs to pull itself out of the Great Recession and position itself for long-term competitive growth. America has gone from zero to sixty on high-speed rail in less than a year, joining virtually every other industrialized nation in making high-speed rail the backbone of a national infrastructure system.  We applaud the Obama Administration's vision in supporting this energy efficient, modern form of transportation and look forward to learning which corridors will be selected.

No matter which corridors receive the preliminary federal grants tomorrow, we offer the following principles for consideration as the program moves forward and expands:

The Administration should demonstrate early success by focusing on corridors with strong ridership demand and the lowest barriers to implementation. Our research indicates that the corridors with the greatest prospects for ridership demand are those that: 
Highlands farms and forests

The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation today announced a grant of $400,000 over three years to Regional Plan Association for wildlife conservation in the Northeast Megaregion as part of the America 2050 initiative. The funds will be applied to a new project to improve the integration of nature conservation with land use planning and infrastructure investments in 13 states across the Northeast, from Maine to Virginia. This marks the first effort to coordinate regional landscape conservation at the megaregion scale, mirroring similar large-scale efforts focused on transportation planning and advocacy that are underway in the Northeast Megaregion.

Read the news release

Defining the corridors in America that are most appropriate for high-speed rail service is critical to the long-term success of America's high-speed rail program. A new report by America 2050 offers one mechanism for assessing which potential high-speed rail corridors will have the greatest ridership demand based on population size, economic activity, transit connections, existing travel markets and urban spatial form and density.

The authors evaluate 27,000 city pairs in the nation to create an index of city pairs with the greatest demand for high-speed rail service. The paper provides a list of the top 50 city pairs, which are primarily concentrated in the Northeast, California, and the Midwest, and provides recommendations for phasing corridor development in the nation's megaregions.

Download the full report (PDF 3.2MB)

Download the Press Release.

View an Interactive Map of America 2050's proposed phasing plan for a national high speed rail network.