Poll results show Americans continue to strongly support rail development

Posted: 15 September 2020 | | No comments yet

Results from recent polls on behalf of the OneRail Coalition and the Association of American Railroads, show that Americans continue to support the development of passenger rail travel and the importance of rail freight in reducing the transportation sector’s impact on climate change.

Poll results show Americans continue to strongly support passenger and freight rail

Credit: Amtrak/Emily Moser

Whether it’s to commute short distances, travel long distances, improve the environment, or expand service, Americans continue to show strong support for rail, according to a new poll conducted by ENGINE INSIGHTS on behalf of the OneRail Coalition. And another recent poll, conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of the Association of American Railroads (AAR), showed similar strong support for moving goods by rail and the importance of freight rail in reducing the transportation sector’s impact on climate change.

The findings of the OneRail Coalition poll include:

  • 75 per cent of Americans agree that we should be shifting more trips to passenger rail and public transit to address the impacts of transportation on climate change
  • The majority of Americans – 64 per cent and 65 per cent – view public transit and passenger rail favourably after the pandemic, with support rising from pre-pandemic levels for both public transit (58 per cent) and passenger rail (59 per cent)
  • Nearly half of all Americans – 47 per cent and 46 per cent – think we should be investing more in public transit and passenger rail, respectively
  • 81 per cent of Americans support Congress providing more funding to address railroad crossing safety after learning government statistics show that approximately 95 per cent of all rail-related deaths involve drivers going through a crossing or a person on the tracks.

The findings of the AAR poll include:

  • 78 per cent of respondents agree that freight railroads play an important role in reducing the U.S. transportation sector’s impact on climate change after learning moving freight by rail instead of by truck lowers greenhouse gas emissions by up to 75 per cent
  • The majority of adults – 58 per cent – favour moving freight over land by rail as opposed to truck to meet projected growth in freight shipments over the next 20 years.

OneRail Coalition Director, Anne Canby, said: “The results from this survey show strong support among Americans for passenger rail and public transit, even in light of the current pandemic, and that people want to return to travel by train and public transit. These results alongside findings from the AAR survey demonstrate the need for federal policies and programmes that promote the shift to rail for both freight and passengers.”

Roger Harris, Amtrak EVP and Chief Marketing and Revenue Officer, said: “Given the steps taken to keep customers safe and the clear benefits to the environment, passenger rail is a preferred mode of travel today and in a post-pandemic world.”

American Public Transportation Association (APTA) President and CEO, Paul P. Skoutelas, said: “The results of this survey are consistent with what we are seeing in communities across the country. The COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated the essential lifeline that public transit plays in our communities, bringing healthcare professionals to the frontlines, delivering groceries and medicine to at-risk populations, and connecting essential workers to their places of work. The public very clearly wants more public transit, and realises public transit’s importance to society. Public transportation is vital to the social and economic recovery of our nation, and robust federal funding is essential to make the necessary investments both in the short- and long-term.”

AAR President and CEO, Ian Jefferies, said: “When it comes to powering our economy and moving us forward, Americans know rail freight will be there to deliver. With our passenger partners, America’s railroads are committed to safely, reliably and efficiently moving people and goods both today and in the long haul.”

The poll for OneRail Coalition was conducted between 28-30 August 2020 through an online CARAVAN® survey conducted by ENGINE INSIGHTS among a national sample of 1,004 adults 18 years of age and older, comprised of 502 men and 502 women. The online omnibus study is conducted three times a week among a demographically representative U.S. sample of 1,000 adults ages 18 and older.

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