Transportation Experts See Bright Future for Rail

Jeff McMahon explores the potential of passenger rail in coming years as automobiles and airplanes "become a little more obsolete."
March 21, 2012, 2pm PDT | Ryan Lue
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Transportation officials from three major cities – Chicago, Denver, and Washington, D.C. – came together last week to discuss how to spruce up U.S. transit centers. At the center of that discussion was a consensus that Americans will soon look to the train station first when traveling from one city to another – or, as McMahon puts it, "that U.S. transit centers are about to become much more crowded."

Former Amtrak CEO Tom Downs offered the insight that "highways and aviation... are capacity constrained [and] capital starved, and there is not much in the way of optimism about either of them. Your capacity seems to be pretty much unlimited for rail."

Chicago's Department of Transportation, for example, anticipates its train traffic will increase 40 percent over the next thirty years; Denver's light rail system has exceeded its ridership projections since it opened in 1994.

"And railroads can accommodate dramatic increases in traffic more easily than highways or aviation."

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Published on Thursday, March 15, 2012 in Forbes
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