Amtrak service between New York and Philadelphia is expected to resume by early next week following Tuesday’s deadly train derailment in Port Richmond.
That’s good news for commuters. Ditto for the region’s economy.
Experts say while there may be a bruising, a roughly weeklong shutdown won’t pack a big financial punch.
One reason: Inconvenienced commuters still spend.
“People will adjust their schedules and adjust their behavior. So even after the first couple of days, the sort of disruptive impact will be lessened here,” said Steve Mullin, president of Econosult Solutions, an economic consulting firm based in Philadelphia.
In fiscal year 2014, 30 million passengers rode Amtrak.
Well over a third of them traveled the Northeast Corridor between Boston and D.C., contributing a whopping $50 billion to the nation’s economy along the way.
Mullin said the service interruption between Philadelphia and New York could easily cost the area between $10 million and $20 million.
“While it’s nothing to sneeze at, it is a very, very small portion of the overall economy here,” he said.
The metropolitan economy is roughly $400 billion.
Two factors, however, could change that prediction — time and fear.
If the stoppage is extended, Mullin said, people could make permanent their temporary commuting solutions, such as driving to work.
Michael Leeds, an economics professor at Temple University, said a distorted view of train safety could also magnify the impact to the economy.
“Train travel, despite this horrible tragedy, is still much safer than driving,” he said.
Eight people were killed and 200 others injured when a New York-bound train peeled off the tracks after hitting a curve at twice the speed limit.
Census data shows that roughly 1,000 people commute daily from Philadelphia to New York City via train.