America’s Model for Smart Growth

Rail Facts

As our population continues to grow and our roadways become more congested, alternatives to automobile travel are in higher demand.  We cannot pave our way to a better future.  Rail is the most safe, economical and environmentally responsible option.  It is also a job creator and community builder.

Drivers of Rail Demand

1.  Rising fuel prices

  • Price of automobile fuel has risen 296 percent over the last decade and corporate vehicle miles traveled reimbursement costs have risen 71 percent.

2.  Lifestyle and car-ownership attitudes among young adults

  • Nearly 26 percent of Millenials in Virginia do not possess a driver’s license.
  • By 2010, more than 30 percent of Americans ages 17 to 19 did not possess a driver’s license, up sharply from 12.7 percent in 1983.

3.  Rising environmental awareness

  • Virginia’s Regional trains use 32 percent less fuel per passenger mile than driving and 20 percent less than flying.
  • Passenger trains use 10 percent less fuel per passenger mile than regional flights.
  • One regional passenger train equals 4 regional planes.

4.  Increase in hassle of post 9/11 airline travel

  • The average flight delay at airports in the Southeast is 55.6 minutes.
  • 9 of the top 22 least reliable airports in America are in the Southeast.

Virginia’s Rail Momentum

Virginia is in the midst of a Rail Renaissance.  Virginia Railway Express has averaged 6 percent growth annually over the last 11 years.  VRE is predicted to grow between 60 and 85 percent by 2025 fueling the need for increased capacity. Virginia’s Amtrak regional trains have seen a demand grow 99.8 percent since 2009 allowing for profitable additions to service including the highly successful Lynchburg and Norfolk lines.

  • Since 2009, Virginia’s Amtrak Regional trains have seen ridership grow by 99.83 percent.
  • In 2013, Virginia was Amtrak’s 8th largest state by passenger volume, and Richmond’s Staples Mill Station was the 20th most used station on the east coast and the largest by passenger volume in the South.
  • Nearly 26 percent of Millenials in Virginia do not possess a driver’s license.

In 2011, Washington DC-VA-MD ranked 1st in the U.S. per auto commuter in the following categories:

  • Yearly Delay; 67 hours
  • Excess Fuel; 32 gallons
  • Congestion Cost; $1,128
  • Pounds of CO2 produced; 631 pounds
  • Freeway Planning Time Index (reliability of freeways measure)


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