“Sonic Automotive, the fourth-largest auto dealership group in the U.S., is entering the San Antonio market for the first time with plans to build five locations of its EchoPark used car retail brand in the next two years,” reported the Express-News last month.
San Antonians are likely encouraged about the possibility of new jobs and further competition in the car market. But how many potential new customers would know that the vast majority of cars sold in the U.S. — some 70 percent — take their first ride on the back of a rail car? Due to its massive network, freight rail has the unique ability to ship certain goods more efficiently than other modes of transportation, providing one of the most cost-effective ways to ship big items in bulk. A single train can transport 750 cars. In 2015, railroads transported more than 17 million autos. It is all part of a mainstay, yet evolving, U.S. industry that has long-supported our economy and way of life by moving goods we depend on. From energy resources to the agricultural yields now in peak transportation season, freight railroads connect to almost everything we use in our daily lives. Major U.S. rail carriers, like BNSF and Union Pacific in Texas, supported 1.5 million jobs, generated $33 billion in local, state and federal taxes, and produced $274 billion in economic activity nationally in 2014 alone.