Will the U.S. ever adopt a high-speed rail system?

If the U.S. is going to go for high-speed rail, it would make sense to focus on those corridors with the potential to transport the most people.

Towards that end, America 2050 – a national initiative to meet the infrastructure, economic development and environmental challenges of the country in the next forty years – has released a map of the nation’s “megaregion” corridors, which it believes are ripe for high speed rail.

The report, which is available online [PDF], identifies the high-speed rail corridors with the greatest potential to attract ridership in each of the nation’s major metropolitan clusters, including corridors between New York and Washington, DC; Chicago and Milwaukee; Los Angeles and San Diego; Tampa (via Orlando) and Miami; Dallas and Houston; Atlanta and Birmingham; Portland and Seattle; and Denver and Pueblo. 

All told, these megaregions encompass more than 70% of the US population and US jobs.

It also scores potential high speed rail corridors based on existing job centers, rail transit networks, and clean-air markets, as well as general ridership demand. 

Those corridors that scored highest–overall, populous regions with large job centers and transit–are those America 2050 considers the best bets for investment.

The study, said America 2050, further recommends that the federal government adopt a quantitative approach to evaluating future investment in high-speed rail. 

The U.S., as it stands now, seriously lags behind regions like Europe and China in high speed rail and has only recently begun investing heavy capital in building out regional infrastructures.

* Susan DeFreitas, EarthTechling