While reading through a thesis on transit investment in the Puget Sound Region, this graph caught my eye. It shows the stark neglect transit investments received over the last 50 years.

capital-investment

It’s really no wonder that so few people have access to high quality transit. Keeping this chart in mind, imagine what could’ve been done with just a fraction of the money that was spent on highways. Here’s a few suggestions:

  • The most recent estimates of cost to complete California’s High Speed rail between San Francisco and Los Angeles is $67.6 billion or less than 2% of the total we’ve spent on highways in this country.
  • If we use the same cost per mile as California’s high speed rail ($54 million), building high speed rail from Portland to Vancouver, BC would only cost about $25.2 billion (467 miles) or less than 1% of the money we’ve put into highways. This is likely a high estimate and it would actually cost much less than this. This estimate puts the cost of rail from Chicago to Columbus at $1.5 billion which is about 300 miles or $5 million per mile.
  • Getting trains in the northeast corridor up to 220 mph would cost about $150 billion or just over 4% of what we’ve spent on highways. This would serve about 10% of the US population (New York, Philadelphia and Washington metro areas).

We hope you loved this article. If so, please consider supporting our work. The Urbanist is a non-profit that depends on donations from readers like you.