How High-Speed Rail Can Help Expand the Economy

Chuck Kennedy obama rail.jpg

It's been hard to justify high-speed rail (HSR) projects in terms of conventional cost-benefit analysis. But, it may be time to rethink--and broaden--the way we think of the benefits of HSR. HSR's benefits are usually thought of in terms of lowering transport costs by reducing problems like gridlock, pollution, and travel time. But the real benefit of HSR may turn on its ability to expand economic growth, according to a new analysis by my colleagues at the Martin Prosperity Institute.

There are three main mechanisms through which high-speed rail can help expand the economy, according to the MPI study. First, HSR expands the labor pool available to firms, bringing talented workers from nearby centers within commuting distance and thus expanding the quantity and quality of available employees. Second, HSR makes more jobs available to workers without making them have to relocate and move to a new home. Third, HSR extends the benefits of other expensive, productivity-enhancing infrastructure such as airports across broad regions. International airports, major research universities, and reference libraries are all more financially viable and internationally competitive when they serve a larger population. High-speed rail allows them to build the scale they need to achieve world-class excellence and also spreads their high costs across a wider population.

The MPI report is here.

Photo credit: Chuck Kennedy/Wikimedia Commons

Presented by

Richard Florida is Co-founder and Editor at Large of CityLab.com and Senior Editor at The Atlantic. He is director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto and Global Research Professor at NYU. More

Florida is author of The Rise of the Creative ClassWho's Your City?, and The Great Reset. He's also the founder of the Creative Class Group, and a list of his current clients can be found here

The Blacksmith: A Short Film About Art Forged From Metal

"I'm exploiting the maximum of what you can ask a piece of metal to do."

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Riding Unicycles in a Cave

"If you fall down and break your leg, there's no way out."

Video

Carrot: A Pitch-Perfect Satire of Tech

"It's not just a vegetable. It's what a vegetable should be."

Video

An Ingenious 360-Degree Time-Lapse

Watch the world become a cartoonishly small playground

Video

The Benefits of Living Alone on a Mountain

"You really have to love solitary time by yourself."

Video

The Rise of the Cat Tattoo

How a Brooklyn tattoo artist popularized the "cattoo"

More in Business

From This Author

Just In