Map: Where Will High-Speed Rail Be Most Effective
A new report by America 2050 has looked at the places in the country where high-speed rail could attract the most riders and, therefore, be the most effective. Download the full PDF here. The map above ranks them. The darker routes are better. As you can see, the Northeast corridor, California, and an area radiating out of Chicago are the most promising. The report is more specific about what is required to support high speed rail:
1: Major employment centers surrounded by medium-sized employment centers and population hubs all within 600 miles.
2: Even better are tracks of 150 miles or less: New York-Philadelphia, Los Angeles-San Diego, and Chicago-Milwaukee. Those routes could generate income and anchor longer routs.
3: Very large cities are incredibly important: "The presence of a very large city on a corridor
with medium-size and smaller cities has greater impact than connecting medium cities of the same size for generating ridership."
4: Knowledge workers, who are more mobile than industrial workers. Without people in industries like finance, you're not going to have people on the train.
The actual equation for ranking the different routes involves population, employment rate, traffic congestion, air travel rate, and many more factors. Combining these numbers resulted in a ranking. Here are how some major routes scored:
The full report also has more regional specific maps with full scores (California and the Northeast are below), so you can see if your city is well positioned for high-speed rail. America 2050's goal is to advocate government investment in infrastructure, and that's what it will take to make any of these findings a reality, but hopefully prove of feasibility might nudge us slightly closer.