The big moment of the rail is coming
Passenger rail transport could be the big winner if Congress goes ahead with President Biden’s ambitious infrastructure plan. Why it matters: There has long been bipartisan support for rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure, but under Biden the focus has shifted to sustainable projects that meet both his goals climate and equity issues, such as rail transport. . Subscribe for free. Even though many transit systems are reeling from the pandemic, ridership is expected to return eventually, requiring a long-term investment. Driving the news: Right now, the Biden administration is trying to push its $ 1.9 billion COVID stimulus package through Congress (including $ 30.5 billion in emergency funding for public transport). But soon the House and Senate will turn their attention to infrastructure spending. Biden wants to spend $ 2 trillion, including $ 50 billion for immediate repairs to roads and bridges. He also wants to build public transport in areas of great poverty and finance high-speed rail systems, promising “the second great rail revolution”. The price could be too high for Republicans, but Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders told Axios Democrats would pass it by simple majority through the budget reconciliation process if necessary. Senators do not balk at the price either. Overview: Railroad advocates see rare opportunity to grow “Amtrak Joe” in the White House. “Stars don’t often line up in the federal government, and we are right now when the White House, the House and the Senate all agree that the time has come to dramatically increase investment in infrastructure, ”said Sean Jeans. Gail, vice president of policy and government affairs for the Rail Passengers Association. “And passenger rail, a mode of transportation traditionally ignored in the United States, has more to gain than other modes,” he added. There are a lot of “fruits at hand” like installing better signaling equipment, updating stations and deploying modern railcars on existing lines like the Northeast Amtrak Corridor, said Gail. North Atlantic Rail’s $ 105 billion project connecting New York and Boston. The jockey has already started among backers of various high-speed rail projects, including current and proposed systems in California, Texas, Florida and the Pacific Northwest, writes Bloomberg City Lab. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) Is pushing for a bill that would invest $ 205 billion over five years in a high-speed rail network, creating at least 2.6 million new jobs and connecting city pairs that in some cases airlines have abandoned. “We have a unique chance to invest in the infrastructure that America will use over the next 100 years,” Moulton told Axios. “We cannot waste this opportunity by purchasing the latest generation infrastructure.” In cities, new light rail systems could help ease traffic and promote economic growth, as is the case in places like Seattle and Denver. In Charlotte, where 400,000 new residents are expected to move by 2040, light rail is playing a vital role in an ambitious transportation plan that could cost $ 8 billion to $ 12 billion, reports Axios Charlotte. Yes, but: To ensure transportation fairness, planners must gain buy-in from affected residents, said Paul Skoutelas, CEO of the American Public Transportation Association. “The decision-making process must be inclusive,” he said. “You have to make sure that professionals listen carefully to users to understand how they are going to impact a community.” Like this article? Get more Axios and subscribe to Axios Markets for free.