Even as the U.S. economy shed more than 3.3 million jobs during 2009 and 2010, railroad employment shot up by 5.2 percent—a trend industry experts expect will continue.
That’s why budget cuts recently proposed by the head of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee come at an especially bad time. In particular, Rep. John Mica’s (R-FL) proposed elimination of a surface transportation grant program could have dire consequences.
Eliminating the $1.5 billion TIGER program (for Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery), which has provided a crucial boost to freight rail transportation, threatens the momentum of this job-creating industry at a critical moment for our national economic recovery.
As U.S. Chamber of Commerce head Thomas Donohue said earlier this year, “Congress should develop a comprehensive freight program to ensure adequate capacity, reduce congestion and increase throughput.” He cautioned that “to rebuild America, we need more than good ideas. We need money. Every option—from federal funding to private investment—must be on the table.”
The $265 billion freight rail industry is a particularly smart choice for public investment in a period of tight budgets because it can turn small public investments into major economic gains.
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