A new poll released by DC-based OneRail Coalition shows continued strong support for both freight and passenger rail in the U.S., outdistancing other modes of transportation.
“These survey results affirm that Americans continue to strongly support freight railroads, passenger rail and public transit,” said OneRail Coalition Director Devon Barnhart. "Favorability ratings rose across the board compared to the 2020 poll findings, underscoring the vital importance of these transportation systems, particularly as we recover from the pandemic and respond to unprecedented supply chain disruptions. OneRail has advocated for increased funding for passenger and transit projects in this country and smart policy to support freight railroads. We are thrilled that Congress responded to America’s overwhelmingly strong support for moving people and goods by rail through the recent passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and we look forward to President Biden signing this bill into law,” she stated.
Association of American Railroads President and CEO Ian Jefferies said, “No country can be a first-rate economic powerhouse without first-rate transportation solutions – and the U.S. freight rail network is second to none thanks to substantial and sustained infrastructure investment. As our economy recovers from the pandemic and supply chain disruptions, this survey affirms the invaluable work of railroaders as they continue to safely and reliably deliver critical goods for customers and communities.”
“The findings of the OneRail poll reflect what we know to be true: people are calling for more passenger rail service,” said Amtrak Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing and Revenue Officer Roger Harris. “As riders return and we look beyond the pandemic, we’re investing in our network to better serve people and communities across the country.”
The current favorability ratings for more passenger rail service almost mirrors a University of Texas study commissioned by the Texas Department of Transportation in 2011 for the I-35 Corridor Advisory Committee. That survey of 2,000 Texans ten years agp showed the willingness to invest in passenger rail service at the regional and intercity level, with 79% of responses strongly or somewhat supportive of using public resources to expand service between cities.
Findings of the OneRail poll include:
83% of Americans polled in 2021 agree that we should shift more trips to passenger rail and public transit as well as more freight to trains to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For passenger rail, post-pandemic favorability ratings showed strong gains, increasing from 65% in 2020 to 75% in 2021. Post-pandemic favorability ratings for public transit also showed a significant increase, moving from 64% in 2020 to 71% in 2021. A large majority of Americans – 86% – consider freight railroads important to the U.S. economy. 63% of Americans favor moving freight over land by rail as opposed to truck to meet projected growth in freight shipments over the next 20 years. Approximately half of all Americans – 49% – agree the U.S. should be investing more in public transit and passenger rail, rising from 47% and 46%, respectively, in 2020. Support remained strong for increasing federal funding for safety at railroad crossings, with 82% of Americans supporting more Congressional spending to address railroad crossing safety after learning government statistics show that approximately 95% of all rail-related deaths involve drivers going through a crossing or a person on the tracks. The 2020 poll results were similar at 81%.
“The results of this survey are consistent with what we are seeing in communities across the country. The public very clearly wants more public transit, and realizes public transit’s importance to society. Public transportation and its numerous benefits are 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,” said American Public Transportation Association (APTA) President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas.
The poll was conducted October 4-6 via an online CARAVAN® survey conducted by ENGINE Insights among a national sample of 1,014 adults 18 years of age and older, comprised of 507 men and 507 women. A similar study was conducted among a sample of 1,004 respondents from August 28-30, 2020. 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.