The federal feasibility and environmental studies that have been completed have identified our northeastern Pennsylvania (NEPA) region as a primary travel destination for 1 million residents from the New York/New Jersey area. Our recreational opportunities at our National Parks, resorts, ski slopes, shopping venues and sports facilities (especially like the Lackawanna County/NY Yankees Triple A Baseball Stadium and Kalahari Waterpark and Resort) are primary venues for visitors and tourists from the NYC region to travel to and stay in NEPA.
According to these studies nearly 15% of the tourism dollars spent in Pennsylvania are spent in NEPA. With tourism becoming one of our region's fastest growing industries alternative and efficient transportation options are required to fuel and increase the growth of the tourism industry. For example, since a large percentage of NYC region residents do not own automobiles it is vital to provide a modern and efficient passenger rail alternative to get to NEPA to partake of our growing tourism industry. It is also known that most of these NYC region residents use the modern and efficient rail passenger system in the NYC area daily and therefore a modern and efficient train service to NEPA would be a preferred option.
Another exciting area of economic development that the rail passenger service project would directly produce is the attraction of back office and perhaps home office professional businesses that are related to the New York City/Northern New Jersey Megalopolis (the Wall Street West Initiative). These businesses are related to the financial, bio science, educational and information technology industries and this sector demands modern and efficient rail transportation between NEPA and the NYC headquarters of these businesses. The new modern passenger equipment envisioned for the Scranton to New York City passenger service would successfully provide this element by providing comfortable, reliable, all weather, WIFI equipped equipment that would allow its riders to use the train as an extension of their business offices.
It should also be recognized that these studies identified over 20,000 Pennsylvania commuters (Pennsylvania citizens with residences in NEPA) who have jobs in New York City and northern New Jersey and must commute on Interstate 80 which is becoming a parking lot during rush hours in the morning and afternoon. This traffic condition will become even worse with the addition of truck traffic which is expected to double in the next ten years especially from the increase expected when the larger ships are diverted to the New York harbor from other ports because of the Panama Canal widening. These NEPA residents may lose their ability to get to work without the alternative that modern passenger rail service will provide.