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    GLOBAL & NATIONAL CONNECTIONS 

     

    DESTINATION

    Greater Philadelphia connects with the largest and fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the world.

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?

 

Expanding international networks of commerce, talent, and culture are connecting large and fast-growing metropolitan areas across the world like never before. As more businesses and workers require convenient and reliable access to the global economy, connections to established and emerging routes of international trade and travel influence the future vitality of a region’s businesses as well as its ability to attract and retain world class talent. Greater Philadelphia’s location at the center of the dense and populous northeastern United States makes it well positioned to advance as a domestic and international gateway for people and goods. Making the most of this locational advantage will require strengthening existing connections and developing new ones with leading centers of commerce and culture.
 

HOW DO WE CURRENTLY FARE?

Global & National Connections
Passenger Air Connections
Intercity Rail Ridership
Global Port Connections
Regional Mobility
Transit Ridership
Transportation Choice
Transportation State of Good Repair
Sustainable Systems
Water Distribution Efficiency
Electric Reliability
Open Space Acreage
Passenger Air Connections
Philadelphia International Airport provides nonstop international service to 25 countries whose combined GDP accounts for nearly one-quarter of world economic output. By this measure, Greater Philadelphia ranks last among the 10 largest U.S. metros.
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COMBINED GDP OF COUNTRIES SERVED BY NONSTOP PASSENGER AIR SERVICE BY METRO AREA (2015)

WORLD CLASS STRATEGIES

 

DEVELOP PHILADELPHIA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT AS A WORLD CLASS FACILITY

A primary gateway for travelers entering and leaving our region and the second-busiest UPS facility in the nation, Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) served 30.2 million passengers and handled 389,000 metric tons of cargo in 2012. PHL has seen significant growth in passenger volume over the past two decades – in 1995, the facility accommodated just 18.4 million passengers. As demands on the airport’s infrastructure have risen, capacity constraints have compromised performance, leading to flight delays and inhibiting the ability of officials to expand the facility’s international and domestic reach. Since 2000, more than $1 billion has been invested to modernize terminals and nearly double gate capacity, but continued investment is required to further improve performance and accommodate anticipated growth in air travel.  

 

Despite substantial growth in passenger volume, the limited number of nonstop flights between PHL and growing global markets, particularly in Asia and South America, constrains opportunities for international commerce, tourism, and cultural exchange. The recent addition of nonstop service to new destinations in South America and the Middle East signals growing interest from emerging metros in connecting with our region, and facility expansion will make it easier to accommodate additional service moving forward. The merger of US Airways and American Airlines brings additional potential for increased service into and out of PHL, provided that the airport retains its status as a hub for the consolidated airline.

 

Beyond its role as a bridge between Greater Philadelphia and the world, PHL is a major employment engine for the region, sustaining jobs across income and skill levels. Facility expansion and improvement will increase these job opportunities, both at the airport and through increased economic activity throughout Greater Philadelphia.

 

Promising Pathways

 

ENHANCING PHL'S CAPACITY AND FACILITIES

 

Constrained runway and facility capacity limit Philadelphia International Airport’s ability to realize its full potential as an economic driver for the region and gateway to the world for businesses, residents, and tourists. PHL’s Capacity Enhancement Program (CEP) includes plans for an additional runway and substantial upgrades to terminal facilities. Full implementation of the CEP will require buy-in from PHL’s partner airlines, as operating fees paid by airlines will provide revenue to fund planned improvements. While the City of Philadelphia recently reached an agreement on a two-year lease extension with US Airways that will pay for a portion of the CEP plan, there remains a substantial gap between available funding and resources needed for full implementation, and negotiations between airport officials, airlines and freight carriers, and nearby residents are ongoing. Coordinated and sustained support from a broad base of local leaders will be required to shepherd the full Capacity Enhancement Program through to completion.

 

MAKING THE BUSINESS CASE FOR MORE NONSTOP FLIGHTS TO KEY INTERNATIONAL MARKETS

 

Nonstop international flights are a key service for existing businesses and residents and can be a deciding factor for businesses determining whether to expand into our region. The recent addition of nonstop international flights toDohaSao Paolo, and Tel Aviv is a step in the right direction, but expanding PHL’s global reach, particularly via service to emerging markets in Asia and South America, will help ensure that Greater Philadelphia is fully engaged in the global marketplace. A coordinated effort by private sector leaders to make the business case for additional direct service from PHL to established and emerging markets will support ongoing work to court airlines to establish these connections.

 

IMPROVING RAIL AND TRANSIT CONNECTIONS TO PHL

 

Increasing access to PHL by better connecting the airport to regional transit and intercity rail networks will help make it more attractive to travelers within Greater Philadelphia and beyond. The airport’s primary transit connection – SEPTA’s Regional Rail Airport Line – currently operates at constrained speeds and limited intervals. Improvements to increase speed and run trains more frequently would increase access to PHL from Center City and better connect the airport with the region’s extensive transit infrastructure. Connecting PHL to Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor rail line will make it easy for travelers up and down the East Coast to access the airport, expanding its effective market area. Amtrak’s long-term vision for the Northeast Corridor proposes a rail stop at PHL that would bring the airport within easy reach of stations in Philadelphia, New York, Baltimore, Washington, DC, and other East Coast metros.

IMPROVE INTERCITY RAIL CONNECTIONS WITH KEY METROS

 

Passenger rail plays an increasingly important role in intercity travel, particularly in the northeastern US, where population density and increasing highway and airspace congestion make rail a viable and attractive option. In Greater Philadelphia, Amtrak ridership has risen by 26 percent since 1997 – three times faster than regional population growth. Businesses and residents in the region rely on the Northeast and Keystone Corridor rail lines to travel between Greater Philadelphia’s 11 Amtrak stations and destinations including New York, Washington, DC, and Harrisburg.

 

In contrast to many younger US regions in the South and West, there is extensive existing rail infrastructure between Greater Philadelphia and neighboring metros. Significant investment is required, however, to bring performance and reliability up to modern standards. The Northeast Corridor requires critical upgrades and repairs to stations, tracks, bridges, storage facilities, signals, and electrical equipment. Amtrak has estimated that it will cost $2.6 billion in annual expenditure over 20 years ($52 billion total) to bring the Northeast Corridor up to a state of good repair and support passenger demand forecasts for 2030. Investment in recent years along the Keystone Corridor has increased top speeds and improved overall performance, though changing regulation surrounding funding for the line could affect service levels going forward. 

 

Efforts to bring high-speed rail to both the Northeast and Keystone Corridors over the long term are the subject of ongoing debate in Washington, DC as well as within Greater Philadelphia, with much of the conversation focusing more on estimated costs of improvements than anticipated benefits. A lack of high-speed rail connections between our region and neighboring metros will place Greater Philadelphia at a competitive disadvantage with metros in nations that have committed to high-speed intercity rail, including China, Japan, much of Europe, and a growing number of other countries.

 

Promising Pathways

 

ADVANCING STRATEGIC RAIL INVESTMENTS ALONG THE NORTHEAST CORRIDOR

 

Amtrak, SEPTA, NJ Transit, and private freight railroads all use the Northeast Corridor rail line within Greater Philadelphia. Capacity bottlenecks and aging infrastructure on the Corridor make all of these services prone to delays and threaten the performance and reliability of passenger and freight rail service entering and leaving the Philadelphia area. The Congressionally-chartered Northeast Corridor Infrastructure and Operations Advisory Commission (NEC Commission), which is charged with developing and implementing a long-term investment strategy for the Northeast Corridor, recently released a report detailing critical investment needs on the Corridor, including several within Greater Philadelphia. Amtrak and the Federal Railroad Administration have both undertaken substantial planning efforts for modernization of rail service along the Corridor, though a lack of funding and political will have impeded further progress. Cultivating a strong and unified regional voice in support of investment in the Northeast Corridor will be critical to improving Greater Philadelphia’s connections with other major East Coast metros.

 

ENSURING SUSTAINED FUNDING FOR AMTRAK'S KEYSTONE SERVICE BETWEEN PHILADELPHIA AND HARRISBURG

 

Recent investment in the Keystone Corridor has made rail service between Philadelphia and Harrisburg faster and more affordable. However, future funding for the service has come into question, as new Congressional regulations and reduced federal subsidies slated to go into effect in late 2013 will shift more of the funding burden to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Ensuring that the state allocates adequate funding to accommodate growing demand on the Keystone Corridor over the long term will be critical to maintaining passenger rail service between Greater Philadelphia and the state capital.

enHANCE CAPACITY ON THE REGION'S FREIGHT RAIL NETWORKS

 

Capitalizing on the logistics opportunities afforded by Greater Philadelphia’s locational advantage requires an efficient goods movement network. Freight rail is a key component of this network, helping to reduce truck traffic and relieve congestion on major roads. Our region is one of just a few US metros serviced by three Class I rail carriers (CSX, Norfolk Southern, and Canadian Pacific) and is also home to several short line railroads that provide direct rail service to customers. While the region’s freight rail infrastructure is robust, system performance is limited by inefficiencies including at-grade crossings, shared rights-of-way, and limited vertical clearance on key lines.

 

Recent and projected increases in demand for freight rail capacity will place additional pressure on the region’s infrastructure. Forecasts estimate that the total domestic value of shipments within, into, and out of Greater Philadelphia in 2035 will be 85% higher than 2002 levels. Pennsylvania’s developing shale gas industry and the ongoing conversion of the former Sunoco refinery in Philadelphia to process oil from the Bakken Formation in North Dakota are likely to lead to increased freight volumes in the region. Activity at area ports is also anticipated to increase with the completion of the Panama Canal widening project and local improvements including the deepening of the Delaware River and planned expansion of area ports. Improvements to enhance capacity on the region’s freight rail network will help better link the region’s port complex with producers and markets across the country, increasing their attractiveness as a point of entry and exit for international and domestic goods. 

 

Promising Pathways

 

ADDING NEW MAIN TRACK ON KEY RAIL LINES

 

Constrained capacity on the region’s rail infrastructure forces operators to share track at several key junctures. With freight rail volumes anticipated to increase, separating passenger and freight trains at existing bottlenecks by adding new main track will help eliminate capacity chokepoints and improve system-wide performance. In September 2013, SEPTA was awarded funding through a federal grant to pay for capital improvements to separate their trains from CSX freight trains on a four-mile section of the West Trenton line. Broad support for this and related efforts are critical to enhancing the efficiency of Greater Philadelphia’s freight network.

 

INCREASING VERTICAL CLEARANCE TO ALLOW FOR PASSAGE OF DOUBLE-STACK RAIL CARS

 

The containerization of shipping has led to increasingly large freight loads and the growth in use of double-stack rail cars. Freight rail operators are relying on these taller, heavier trains for a growing share of business, as double stacking reduces operating costs and can lead to better profit margins. Greater Philadelphia’s freight rail network today does provide adequate vertical clearance for these trains on select lines, but investment is needed to increase clearance across the system. The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission’s Long-Range Vision for Freight identifies critical points where investment to increase clearance will help unlock additional capacity.

 

ENHANCING COORDINATION BETWEEN FREIGHT OPERATORS AND PASSENGER RAIL SERVICE TO REDUCE SYSTEM CHOKEPOINTS

 

Overlap between freight, commuter, and intercity rail service where these systems intersect or share track leads to scheduling conflicts and service delays. Enhanced coordination between passenger rail and freight operators will help improve all-around performance and efficiency, effectively increasing capacity without capital investment.