High-Speed Rail Gets Massive Boost from Stimulus Bill?

An updated version of this article is posted here.

The AP reports that the compromise stimulus bill will include the following:

  • $8.4 billion for transit
  • $8 billion for high-speed rail
  • $1.3 billion for Amtrak

This information has been confirmed by Speaker Pelosi’s office. At this point, I do not have confirmation that the above numbers are correct. However, if they are, they would This represents an enormous boost to rail in the United States and a huge increase in funding over the House and Senate versions, which provided a maximum of $2 billion for high-speed rail and $850 million for Amtrak. This bill will represent by far the largest-ever single U.S. contribution to rail funding, and is the first step towards the kind of national rail network for which we’ve been wishing.

Transit does not get as big of a boost as the House bill would have provided it, but the $8.4 billion retains the Senate’s adequate funding. When put in the context of the $27 billion to be assigned to highways, this gives rail and transit a 40% share of the total transportation funds, much larger than the 10-15% typically distributed in transportation legislation.

the transport politic will update as soon as it can get its hands on the text of the legislation.

8 Comments | Leave a Reply »
  • PPP

    Not bad! that´s much more money than it was planned. Hopefully that´s right.
    I was surprised by the $7 billion for broadband services too, isn´t it too much?

  • I’m confused. . . why would the conference committee, which apparently only met for 1 day or so, suddenly boost the HSR funding by over 6 billion more than was agreed upon in either bill? $8 billion doesn’t seem like a compromise between two bills when one bill had $2 billion appropriated and another had much less.

    But hey, if it’s true, I won’t look a gift horse in the mouth! If Senator Kerry’s HSR bill eventually makes it’s way through as well, it looks like CA will be getting the HSR system that voters approved state funding for in November!

  • Patrick M

    $8 billion for HSR is indeed staggering. The way the press release on TPM is written, though, has this sort of “lumping” together of all things transit and rail. It is possible the way the legislation is written that instead of this money being specifically tied up for HSR, that it will wind up in commuter rail/amtrak/transit projects instead. It seems like Sen. Kerry took to the floor not knowing the difference the other day, therefore, I imagine their staffers putting the bill together might not know, either.

    Here’s another point to consider- this is from Pelosi’s office, and if the HSR bill says anything about speeds mostly above 150 mph, this bill is essentially a gift to California. Nobody else is even talking about speeds like that, and the few other areas with reasonably functioning HSR development programs (NC/VA, Midwest) are talking about 110 mph service mostly.

    Re-tooling those programs for 150 mph would take longer than the stimulus bill’s timeframe, for sure.

  • NikolasM

    My wife works in the non profit government public health sector and she told me that the next Budget would reflect many of the focii of this stimulus. Thus having $8 billion for HSR is fantastic for future prospects additional funding.

  • Steve

    I don’t consider what they have in the NE Corridor as high speed rail. Average speed is below 110. Closer to highway speeds.

  • PPP

    I agree. This is a gift to California, they have been pushing for it though. They already $10 billion bonds for HSR. They still need $25 billion more for the project. We´ll see if local authorities give their supprt to it too

  • Norman Brown

    Its easy to pass bond issues, ask Governor Pataki. California sells 10B worth of bonds, what are those bonds based on, future fares? And even if California gets half the money it is only a down payment.

  • Sounds good, but I’d really like some new steam trains instead of electric engines: http://lowtechtimes.com/2009/02/12/englands-new-a1-tornado-steam-engine/

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