Information published on 28 September 2020 in the UIC electronic newsletter "UIC eNews" Nr eNews.

United States: September 17, 2020 Americans continue to strongly support more rail and public transport

Favourability rises post-pandemic; support shifting trips to passenger rail and public transport to address climate change

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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. 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 transport sector’s impact on climate change.

Findings of the OneRail poll include:

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

Findings of the Association of American Railroads poll:

  • 78% of respondents agree that freight railroads play an important role in reducing the U.S. transport sector’s impact on climate change after learning that moving freight by rail instead of by truck lowers greenhouse gas emissions by up to 75%.
  • The majority of adults – 58% – favour moving freight over land by rail as opposed to truck to meet projected growth in freight shipments over the next 20 years.
    “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,” said OneRail Director Anne Canby. “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,” she stated.
    “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,” said Roger Harris, Amtrak EVP and Chief Marketing and Revenue Officer.

“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,” said American Public Transportation Association President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas. “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 freight rail 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 was conducted from 28 to 30 August by online survey. The online omnibus study is conducted three times a week among a demographically representative U.S. sample of 1,000 adults aged 18 and above.

Download and share social media graphics (png format):
75% of Americans believe we should shift more trips to public transit and passenger rail to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
78% of Americans agree that freight railroads play an important part in reducing the transportation sector’s impact on climate change.
64% of Americans view public transit and passenger rail favourably after the pandemic.
6 out of 10 Americans prefer moving freight over land by rail as opposed to truck.
1 out of 2 Americans believe we should be investing more in public transit and passenger rail.

(Source: Amtrak)