Improving Transportation Performance

The NEC plays a critical role in reducing congestion and supporting the productivity of the NEC Region. One measure of the importance of an asset is the cost of life without it. If the NEC were lost for a day, workers would shift to congested roads, work from home, or be unable to work altogether. As a result, the Region would incur $100 million in lost productivity and other congestion-related costs.

The benefits of the NEC stretch beyond the NEC Region and across the nation. While the Northeast transportation network faces some of the worst transportation-related delays in the U.S., the Region’s congestion has national consequences. One half of all flight delays nationwide originate at the four major airports in the New York airspace. Amtrak’s NEC services alleviate pressure on the region’s aviation system, by carrying more intercity trips within the NEC Region than all airlines combined. Without the NEC, the Region’s airports could not absorb increased demand without negative economic consequences. In 2007, air travelers lost $2.5 billion in productivity due to delays at Northeast airports.

In the future, the NEC’s benefits to the wider transportation system may cease to grow without investment. Already the NEC is reaching the practical limits of its capacity. If the NEC were unable to accommodate anticipated levels of growth in travel demand between now and 2025, the Region’s highway and aviation system users would face $1.2 billion in additional annual costs.

Greater investment in the NEC, however, could have significant benefits for the transportation system. Through transformational investments in new rail capacity, the NEC could accommodate higher levels of travel demand growth between now and 2040, resulting in $8.2 billion per year in savings for users of the highway and aviation systems alone – not including overall economic productivity benefits that could be derived from improved NEC services.


Wilmington Station, Delaware