"Our failure as a nation to address America’s public transit modernisation needs has wide-ranging negative effects because lost time in travel makes a region’s economy less productive."
The huge role that rail transport plays in the economy have been laid bare in the US after it was revealed that the country lost out on more than £250bn ($340bn) of business revenue as a result of years of underinvestment. The huge losses, which were published this month by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), focus primarily on the failure to address a £67bn ($90bn) accumulation of overdue modernisation in transport – known as the State of Good Repair – that led to lost jobs and wages.
APTA reported that over that over the last six years shortfalls in modernisation resulted in a dip of around £144bn ($180bn) in gross national product (the total value of goods produced and services provided by a country during one year); losses of around £81bn ($109bn) in household income; and the loss of 162,000 jobs over the same period. The companies which retained their workforce were still adversely affected, however, due to the fact that the delays to commutes emanating from poor infrastructure led to a slowdown of workers’ economic output that harmed the businesses themselves and the wider economy.
The study, which was carried out by the Economic Development Research Group and which also covers bus travel, has arrived at the alarmingly high reported losses after performing detailed studies on operators from across the country: Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA); Chicago Transit Authority (CTA); Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA); Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA); San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA); and Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA).
APTA president, Paul P. Skoutelas, was clear that action had to be taken now to avert more losses and improve productivity. “Our failure as a nation to address America’s public transit modernisation needs has wide-ranging negative effects because lost time in travel makes a region’s economy less productive,” said Skoutelas. “Congress has an opportunity in the current fiscal year 2019 Appropriations process to help address the nation’s aging public transit infrastructure.”
Meanwhile, fixing the current situation and introducing a more efficient network for the US’s future prospects has been given even more credence, after online giant – and one of the world’s most profitable companies – Amazon said that a properly functioning transport system with “optimal access to mass transit” was an essential requirement for its planned £3.8bn ($5bn) headquarters. Amazon is currently in the process of finding a suitable site and has said that, wherever it is, direct access to rail, train, subway/metro and bus routes are a must.
In other US rail news, the country’s operators involved in the roll out of positive train control (PTC) were provided with a helping hand this week from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration, which has released £185m ($250m) of funding to help deploy the communication-based train control system. More information on the story can be found on our sister website, Transport Security World.
Why attend SafeRail (Washington 11th - 12th June, 2018) ? Find out how you can overcome PTC interoperability issues / Learn how you can develop a safety culture to protect your workforce / Hear how your industry colleagues are preventing deaths by trespassing and suicide / Keep up to date with federal safety regulations / Safeguard your staff and customers from dangerous railroad conditions / And much more.
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