The merits of rail transportation, substantial compared with highways, have been overlooked in coverage of President Clinton's strategy of infrastructure investment for economic recovery. Our dependence on road transport exemplifies the inefficient use of resources in the United States.
Rail transport requires half the energy to carry a given number of people, needs one-eighth the space road transportation needs and costs one-sixteenth as much. Because rail can transport more people to a place, buildings can be built taller and less spread out, and the need for private parking is drastically reduced.
The research of David Alan Aschauer, an economist at Bates College, shows the net benefits of railroad investment are twice as large as highway investment and accrue positive results three times faster.
More than 72 percent of Americans support increased investment in public transportation options.
Budget makers in state houses and city halls should also redirect transportation investments from highways to railroads.
New York, Jan. 28, 1993
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