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The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) has released a new report that provides a framework for assessing return on investment (ROI) for high-speed and intercity passenger-rail projects. The report suggests a new analysis that considers a broader range of local community effects, as well as impacts on regional connectivity and global competitiveness.APTA reviewed 47 prior studies that assessed the benefits, costs, and economic and social impacts of various passenger-rail proposals. The review showed that the projects can have "broad societal benefits that go far beyond time and cost for users," APTA officials wrote.However, the association's technical review team found that a "lack of consistency regarding coverage of alternative travel modes, breadth of study areas and time periods."Drawing from the review of prior studies, the report identifies a set of individual impact and benefit factors that can be applied to high-speed and intercity passenger-rail projects. For each one, APTA provides impact metrics and describes the information and tools that can be applied to measure or estimate it. "For communities to get a complete picture of high-speed and intercity passenger rail and its benefits, the analysis should involve a combination of methods including a cost-benefit, an economic impact, and a social impact analysis," said Anna Barry, chair of APTA's High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail Committee, in a press release.
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