Senate President Pro Tempore Malcolm A. Smith Represents New York State as Co-Chair of the High Speed Rail Working Group of the National Conference of State Legislatures

March 08, 2010

Participates in National Conference on High Speed Rail

Senate President Pro Tempore Malcolm A. Smith, co-chair of the High Speed Rail Working Group of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL),  attended a conference in Orlando, Florida to discuss the future of High Speed Rail and how to make it a reality in New York State.   The conference was sponsored by the US High Speed Rail Association and was attended by heads of transportation commissions and governmental officials from around the globe.
Conference topics included:
·         Bringing High Speed Rail to America
High Speed Rail Around the World
Real Estate Development Opportunities
Transit Oriented Development
Rail Station Architecture and Design
Creating Jobs & Stimulating the Economy
Scaling Up Renewable Energy for HSR
Planning New High Speed Rail Systems
Streamlining the Application Process
Financing HSR & the Role of Private Capital
HSR Infrastructure Fund
Technology of HSR
Integrating with Local and Regional Transit
Senator Smith along with Rep. John Mica (R., FL), ranking minority member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee were the keynote speakers at the luncheon. Senator Smith discussed the role the NCSL will play in advancing the High Speed Rail (HSR) mission and gave an overview of the progress and goals of HSR in New York State.
“Viable passenger rail is essential to achieve a balanced intermodal transportation system,” Senator Smith said.  “High-speed rail offers the opportunity to alleviate traffic congestion; provides land use planning alternatives; provides an alternative to highways and air travel during periods of national crisis; addresses environmental concerns and reduces dependence on foreign oil.”
During the address, Senator Smith outlined his three part approach to building a High Speed Rail system in New York State which includes:
1. Establishing a High-Speed Rail Authority to operate the system and raise money to ensure its success: specifically, to provide matching funds for federal grants, continue the environmental and engineering work to prepare for the new high speed rail corridor and then, to build the line.
2. Convening a statewide High-Speed Rail Public Private Partnership ("P3") Council to achieve public-private collaboration in funding high speed rail. Led by former Comptroller Carl McCall, the State Asset Maximization Commission has outlined the key principles of public-private partnerships in modern economies. New York State will apply those principles specifically to developing high-speed rail.
3. Establishing a bipartisan High-Speed Rail Business Council to promote awareness of high-speed rail and to advocate for its construction. Exceptional strides have been made by the Regional Plan Association and the New York State High Speed Rail Coalition to build these relationships.
Impact studies conducted by the  New York High Speed Rail Coalition, have found that High Speed Rail for the Empire Corridor (NYC-Buffalo) would create approximately 250,000 immediate jobs during the construction phase and another 1.7 million jobs upon completion as labor markets are bolstered in the Rochester-Syracuse areas and Buffalo-Niagara Falls area.
Studies also revealed that High Speed Rail would reduce the carbon footprint and decrease traffic congestion. Carbon emissions per passenger mile traveled are much lower for those commuting via passenger rail compared to automobile or airline.  One gallon of diesel fuel will move one ton of goods or people over 450 miles.
Economic, urban and tourism development would be bolstered by making travel easier and more efficient for New Yorkers to travel to work, attend university and visit tourist attractions in all of New York’s major metropolitan areas
“Significant federal financial support of high-speed rail projects is imperative for the development and sustainment of these capital-intensive rail systems,” Senator Smith said. “I am encouraged by the recent federal investments in high-speed rail and am optimistic that the $8 billion provided in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, supplemented by the $2.5 billion provided in Fiscal Year 2010, will jump-start local investment in this process.”
On April 9, 2010, Senator Smith and his co-chair of the High Speed Rail Working Group of the National Conference of Legislatures, Senator Dennis Nolan of Nevada, will conduct a hearing in Washington D.C. to take testimony from national stakeholders in the national HSR movement.  This will serve as the foundation for  national HSR policy for the Conference of Legislatures.  Senator Smith will lead the lobbying effort on its behalf.
A regional High Speed Rail conference will be held in New York in the fall with attendees from across the United States.
For more information on the conference please visit the US High Speed Rail Associations website at