Commuter Rail

Commuter rail is safe, congestion-reducing, and environmentally friendly. And Commuter Rail supports the economic wellbeing of cities and families.

The US Department of Transportation Defines Commuter Rail as:

An electric or diesel propelled railway for urban passenger train service consisting of local travel which operates between a central city and outlying areas. Service must be operated on a regular basis … for the purpose of transporting passengers within urbanized areas, or between urbanized areas and outlying areas. Commuter rail is generally characterized by multi-trip tickets, specific station-to-station fares… relatively long distance between stops, and only 1-2 stations in the central business district. [USDOT NTD Glossary]

the benefits of commuter rail:

Delivering 490 million passenger trips annually, US commuter railroads benefit passengers and the metropolitan regions they serve.   

  • Commuter Rail is the safest form of transportation.

  • Commuter Rail service supports economic development and grows a tax base by providing access to metropolitan centers. 

  • Commuter Rail facilitates the talent demands of employers through safe, environmentally sound transportation to jobs.

  • Commuter Rail provides a city’s workforce with access to more affordable housing beyond the city center.

  • Using Commuter Rail can prevent the adverse health effects attributable to driving in rush hour traffic.

  • By removing cars from roadways, Commuter Railroads reduce the carbon footprint of riders, and spare remaining drivers even worse roadway congestion.

Commuter rail: the safest mode of surface transportation

Commuter rail is the safest means of commuting in the United States. According to the National Safety Council, it is the safest of all modes of travel. And with innovations in technology and human factors analysis, commuter railroads are continuously improving their safety performance.

The much-discussed Positive Train Control (PTC) is just one safety system of many already in use, and the technology being installed today will be undergoing improvement and upgrades for decades to come.

Passenger railroads in the US are driving toward zero preventable accidents, and year-over-year numbers demonstrate that fact.   

Want proof? See the FRA’s Safety Data Fact Sheet here:

Safety Perspective:

Lifetime odds of death for selected causes, United States 2017

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According to Texas Transportation Institute’s 2015 Urban Mobility Scorecard delays due to traffic congestion caused drivers to waste more than 3 billion gallons of fuel and kept travelers stuck in their cars for nearly 7 billion extra hours – 42 hours per rush-hour commuter. The total nationwide price tag: $160 billion, or $960 per commuter.

"Nobody likes sitting in traffic," Austin Frakt, Director of the Partnered Evidence-Based Policy Resource Center at Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System, writes, but we do it all the time. On average, commuters in America spend 42 hours per year in rush hour traffic, and that number doubles in high-traffic cites, such as Los Angeles, according to an analysis by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute.

As a result, Frakt, who also is an associate professor with Boston University's School of Public Healthand an adjunct associate professor with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, writes that traffic has become one of life's "major stressors," and there is research to back that up. For instance, one study revealed that "commuting is one of the least pleasant things we do," according to Frakt.

"The Upshot," New York Times, 1/21/19).