Big Buses Ready To Go! High Speed Rail Ready To Fail?

Posted on November 12, 2010 by LCT Staff - Also by this author - About the author

The American Bus Association reminds politicians that costly, complicated high-speed rail systems can easily be surpassed by the greener, more flexible option of big bus transportation.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The AMERICAN BUS ASSOCIATION (ABA) on Thursday urged the U.S. government to pursue transportation policies boosting the role of intercity buses as the solution that saves money, provides hassle-free travel, fills in gaps by connecting to other travel modes, offers mobility to millions of rural citizens residing far from air and rail hubs, and which are redeployable to anywhere that’s paved.

“Buses are here today and readily available as the simple solution that saves money,” said ABA President & CEO Peter Pantuso in a statement. “Motorcoach ridership has soared to 762 million passenger trips annually. Private intercity buses account for more passenger trips than the domestic airlines in most years, and we move more people in two weeks than Amtrak does all year.”

ABA is already at work to convey to the 80+ new members of Congress, as well as those who haven’t been aboard a modern motorcoach recently, the messages that intercity buses can be routed to meet unexpected or emergency traveler demand at a moment’s notice, and are tailored for the role of connecting to planes, trains and intra-city transit buses or light commuter rail.

The much-touted idea of spending on new High-Speed Rail (HSR) service, conversely, is cost prohibitive given the billions of tax dollars it would require to buy the rights of way, lay the tracks, and subsidize the operational costs it would demand if and when it’s ever built.

Projections for the cost of tracks needed for HSR in the Northeast corridor estimate a price tag topping $1 billion — and that’s in addition to the $1.2 billion Amtrak already receives from the federal government. Another study projects the suggested Milwaukee-Minneapolis HSR corridor will require millions in subsidies just to maintain service after its future completion. Several private bus lines compete successfully in the market for travelers within the Northeast corridor of the U.S. between Boston and Washington — at a fraction of the price of an Amtrak ticket, and with times that compare favorably with rail, air and personal autos. As well, each motorcoach takes up to 55 single-occupant autos off of congested highways, mitigating congestion, reducing emissions and saving fuel, which bolsters U.S. energy security.

Motorcoaches are also the greenest way to travel, according to an independent study by The Union of Concerned Scientists, “Getting There Greener,” in which they urge motorcoach travel.

“Buses beat high-speed rail in affordability, flexibility, and mobility,” Pantuso added. “ABA looks forward to carrying these messages to the new Congress as elected officials seek policies that save money and benefit society. Buses do both. The transportation future can be less expensive, cheaper, more efficient and cleaner than ever. And that future is not far away. It’s actually here today. It’s called the bus. And America is riding on us.”


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