Unveiled this morning, the Obama Administration’s “Vision for High-Speed Rail in America” elicited an outpouring of largely supportive sentiment from passenger-rail advocates, rail industry organizations and other interested constituencies. Among those issuing public statements:• The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) on behalf of its 1,500 members: “[APTA] applauds President Barack Obama for his vision in developing much needed high-speed rail in the United States, which will change the way Americans travel.” Added APTA Chair Beverly Scott, who also serves as the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority’s general manager and CEO: “High-speed rail will not only be good for mobility, but it will be good for reducing our nation’s carbon footprint, for attaining energy independence and for creating economic prosperity.” … APTA President Bill Millar chimed in thusly: “This high-speed rail strategic plan signals a major step forward in transportation policy. The American public transportation industry stands ready to work with President Obama and his Administration to truly create an interconnected, intermodal transportation system. Finally, America is stepping up to the plate to develop high-speed rail like other countries around the world have.”• The National Association of Rail Passengers (NARP): “It was truly an honor to be present when, for the first time in my 34 years with the Association, a president of the United States delivered a speech on passenger trains that I would have been proud to have authored, backed up by the unprecedented $9.3 billion for intercity passenger trains in the Economic Recovery law,” said Ross Capon, NARP’s president and chief executive officer. President Obama “hit exactly the right tone” by “underlining the many reasons why we need to invest in passenger trains … noting that the tasks at hand include both improvement of existing rail lines so trains can go faster and creation of world-class high-speed systems such as Californians voted for in November … and emphasizing that the Recovery law funds and the $5 billion planned for future budgets represent ‘just a first step.”’ Capon added that NARP’s board recently voted to make President Obama the first sitting president to be honored with the group’s George Falcon Golden Spike Award.• The Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC), which for the past 15 years has pushed for a Midwest high-speed rail network, praised President Obama’s “vision for a modern high-speed rail network that will transform America’s transportation system.” Added ELPC Executive Director Howard Learner: “The President’s strategic plan and vision gets modern, fast, comfortable and convenient trains on the fast track to connect our cities. High-speed rail development can create new jobs now, spur regional economic growth, and improve our environment by reducing pollution.” • Rick Harnish, executive director of the Midwest High Speed Rail Association: “I had the honor of attending this press conference today. It was very exciting to hear the President set a new agenda for transportation. … The President laid out two priorities: fixing existing routes to reduce transit times and constructing new world-class high-speed rail lines.”• The Association of American Railroads on behalf of U.S. freight railroads: “We applaud the President's leadership in recognizing the importance of rail to the future of our nation’s transportation network. Just as freight rail provides significant environmental benefits to Americans, so too will the expansion of high-speed rail passenger service. … As members of the OneRail Coalition, we support expanded use of both freight and passenger rail in this country. … However, it is essential that improvements aimed at developing high-speed passenger routes do not ignore freight rail’s need to move our nation’s goods. … We look forward to working with the Administration, Congress and the states to see that the promise of expanded freight and high-speed passenger rail is realized.”• And this from EMBARQ - The World Resources Institute Center for Sustainable Transport, a non-profit organization that develops transport solutions for cities: “The President is on the right track,” said Nancy Kete, director. “The new plan to integrate high-speed rail with urban transit will help reduce congestion and make cities better places to live. … But there's a missing mode in the plan. To complement rail, we also need to help cities build high-quality, high-capacity bus rapid transit systems, which can offer good high-speed service, but at a fraction of the cost of rail.” To that end, the Obama Administration ought to consider new “pricing policies,” such as raising fuel taxes and charging car commuters when they drive on downtown streets during rush hour, Kete said. “This will not only cut traffic and clear air pollution, but it will also raise much-needed revenue for better transportation services, including mass transit expansion and highway maintenance,” she added.