Dovetailing with the U.S. Dept. of Transportation announcement that 24 states were vying for the $2.4 billion in high-speed rail funds rejected by Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R), public transit advocates released a report contending that high-speed and intercity passenger rail projects will stimulate construction, manufacturing sector and long-term job growth. According to the report, for each $1 billion invested in HSR projects, 24,000 jobs will be created.

Kevin McFall, senior vice president with Stacy and Witbeck, Inc., Alameda, Calif., a general contractor, called construction of transit, rail—and high-speed rail—a “shot in the arm” at an April 6 press conference. “I have had firsthand exposure to the benefits of these kind of projects in the communities in which we build them,” he said.

The report, “The Case for Business Investment in High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail,” was conducted by the Economic Development Research Group for the U.S. Conference of Mayors, a non-partisan association representing U.S. cities with populations over 30,000

High-speed rail ridership has doubled in the world in the past decade and is expected to double again, said Charles Wochele, vice president for industry and government relations at Alstom Transport, a Paris-based train manufacturer. But when the first Paris-Lyon line was built in 1970 during a European recession, it initially met with the same kind of resistance that HSR faces in the U.S. today, he added. Now, there are almost 2600 miles of HSR in Europe, he said.

“I don’t understand why it’s become so politicized,” he added of the American controversy regarding high-speed rail.

William Millar, president of the American Public Transportation Association, noted that out of the 24 states vying for the rejected Florida rail funds, “eleven are headed by Republican governors.

Revised HSR project from $1 million to $1 billion.