Monday, March 30, 2009

All Aboard Ohio: 3-C Corridor 'has only upsides'

The 3-C Corridor passenger rail project tying together Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus and Cleveland will have zero risk to Ohio taxpayers, says All Aboard Ohio interim executive director Ken Prendergast.

Prendergast projects that, based upon an analysis of the experiences of 14 other states that fund Amtrak, a federal investment of $250 million would have several benefits along the 260-mile corridor:

  • Immediate improvement in freight rail services due to track improvements and additional passing sidings
  • The installation of Positive Train Control, which overrides human error along the entire route and is mandated to be installed by 2015 by the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008
  • Safer grade crossings
  • Train stations serving as multi-modal transportation centers in the heart of business districts
  • The attraction of private investment around the service, including new construction and renovation of buildings containing a mix of uses
  • Savings to travelers in excess of operating subsidies
"In 10 of 14 states that support passenger rail, travelers' savings were larger than the state subsidies provided to Amtrak," Prendergast says. "For example, travelers using Amtrak trains in Washington saved an average of $1.30 for every $1 of state subsidy. In North Carolina, travelers saved $5.90 for every $1 of state subsidy to Amtrak."

An analysis of ridership projections and operating costs by the Ohio Rail Development Coalition and Amtrak has yet to be completed, but Prendergast says that, because of these wide-ranging benefits, Ohio needs to act now to tap federal economic stimulus funds.

"We are aware of the concern expressed by some state legislators about making a decision without this latest passenger rail study being done," he says. "But I am confident that the benefits beyond the passenger rail service will make this investment worthwhile."

Cincinnati City Council passed a resolution of support for the 3-C Corridor project earlier this month.

Previous reading on BC:
Cincinnati supports 3-C passenger rail (3/10/09)
Cincinnati EDC to consider resolution of support for Ohio passenger rail service (2/23/09)
All Aboard Ohio: Stimulus bill may ignore Ohio's train and transit needs (1/21/09)