Monday, June 8, 2015
The Economic Case for High Speed Passenger Rail In Metro Detroit
In a 2013 report conducted by the American Society of Civil Engineers, Michigan’s transportation infrastructure was given a D. This grade reflects our crumbling roads, structurally unsound bridges, and inadequate public transportation. Southeast Michigan’s transportation infrastructure was once world renowned, however our innovation remains relatively stagnant, as the decades pass us by. Detroit in particular has one of the worst public transportation networks in the country. There were multiple proposals for Detroit to construct a subway network across city dating back to 1903.However, these proposals failed in lieu of fiscal concerns.
For the last few years now there has been talk between state, federal, and private entities in the development and renovation of the Old State Fairgrounds into a multi-modal transportation hub. This multi-modal hub is anticipated to include: rapid inter-city buses, high speed passenger trains, and a taxi stand. Developing, and more so implementing a regional transportation plan using the technological innovations refined over the past few decades is necessary, to significantly increase metro Detroit’s competiveness across the state of Michigan, and states in the Midwest region. Renovating our passenger rail infrastructure is central to developing a market that develops and sustains a healthy economy.
The Federal Railroad Administration has designated the corridor that Detroit is situated in as the Pontiac-Detroit-Chicago corridor. This corridor contains millions of people in a relatively close vicinity that would drastically boost the mobility of persons traveling between the two metropolises. In effect, the development of a regional high speed rail network for our particular corridor is estimated to net over 6.1 billion in sales annually and generate 2.5 billion in annual wages. Additionally, over 42,000 jobs are expected to be created in our regional rail corridor. It is projected that for every one billion dollars invested into high speed rail infrastructure there are 24,000 jobs created.
“the total cost of all US air transportation delays in 2007 was $32.9 billion including an $8.3 billion airline component consisting of increased expenses for crew, fuel, and maintenance; $16.7 billion for the time passengers lost due to schedule buffer, delayed flights, flight cancellations, and missed connections; $3.9 billion for the cost demand incurred because of passengers who avoid air travel as the result of delays; and, $4 billion for negative impact on the gross domestic product (GDP).”
With the population continuing to grow, it will put an increased strain on the aviation industry. Without a feasible alternative mode of transportation the aviation industry will inevitably become undesirable as congestion and related costs continue to cut into profits. Detroit Metro Airport and O’Hare Airport in Chicago are amongst some of the most congested airports in the country. It is projected by the Department of Transportation that depending on a number of variables HSR could save roughly 20 billion annually in airline congestion across the country.
Detroit, throughout the years and the turmoil, continues to find itself in the position to be a leading force in the global economy through the technological innovations of the 21st century. Across the board, peer reviewed studies suggest that high speed passenger rail is one of the most economically feasible platforms for cities to implement and benefit, long term from. An inter-modal transportation hub, that links southeastern Michigan together with high performance public transportation, is a critical step in developing and innovating our current transportation infrastructure nationwide
1. American Society of Civil Engineers. (2013). Michigan infrastructure grades for 2012. Report Card for Americas Infrastructure, Retrieved from http://www.infrastructurereportcard.org/michigan/michigan-overview/
2. Peterson, C. (2012). Opportunity cost of inaction: High-speed and high performance passenger rail in the United States. American Public Transportation Association, Retrieved from http://www.apta.com/resources/reportsandpublications/Documents/HPPR-Cost-of-Inaction.pdf
3. Peterson, C. (2011). The case for business investment in high speed and intercity passenger rail.American Public Transportation Association, Retrieved from chrome-extension://ecnphlgnajanjnkcmbpancdjoidceilk/http://www.apta.com/resources/reportsandpublications/Documents/HSRPub_final.pdf
4. (“NextGen: Aligning Costs, Benefits and Political Leadership,” ENO Transportation Foundation, April 2012)
5. (“Total Delay Impact Study: A Comprehensive Assessment of the Costs and Impacts of Flight Delay in the United States Final Report,” Michael Ball, Cynthia Barnhart, Martin Dresner, Mark Hansen, Kevin Neels, Amedeo Odoni, Everett Peterson, Lance Sherry, Antonio Trani, and Bo Zou, October, 2010)
 (“NextGen: Aligning Costs, Benefits and Political Leadership,” ENO Transportation Foundation, April 2012)
 (“Total Delay Impact Study: A Comprehensive Assessment of the Costs and Impacts of Flight Delay in the United States Final Report,” Michael Ball, Cynthia Barnhart, Martin Dresner, Mark Hansen, Kevin Neels, Amedeo Odoni, Everett Peterson, Lance Sherry, Antonio Trani, and Bo Zou, October, 2010)