The vast majority of Americans want the federal government to invest in strengthening the national passenger rail network, according to a new poll by the Rail Passengers Association (RPA), the nation's largest advocacy organization for rail passengers. Specifically, 78% of respondents said having a strong passenger rail system in the U.S. is "Important" and 66% said they support adding more routes to the current rail network.
The results of the poll come after Congress passed and President Joe Biden signed the Investment in Infrastructure and Jobs Act, which could provide up to $100 billion for the national network over the next five years.
RPA's polling was conducted in November 2021 by Change Research and polled 1,280 registered voters from across the United States. Full results from the survey are available online at www.railpassengers.org.
RPA's Vice-President of Government Affairs and Policy Sean Jeans-Gail will outline the results of the just released poll Thursday evening during the conference dinner at the 18th Annual Southwestern Rail Conference in Dallas at the DoubleTree-Dallas Campbell Centre.
In Texas, where some have been objecting to the proposed high-speed rail line between Dallas and Houston saying that no one would want to ride the train, the poll showed that 57% of those surveyed indicated they would use high-speed rail if it was available to them.
"Americans want and deserve a robust, efficient, and practical national rail network. The signing of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill gives us a once-in-a-generation chance to deliver on that promise," said Rail Passengers President & CEO Jim Mathews. "This support we see is broad-based across all demographics – Republicans, Democrats and Independents, men and women of all ages and races, and even rural or urban living."
The poll found that there is strong support among all political parties, social and ethnic groups for passenger rail, which reinforces the importance of a strong network. Some of the key demographic findings of support include:
95% Democrats; 61% Republicans; 77% independents 80% women; 75% men 91% Black or African American; 81% for Hispanic or Latinx; 75% for White or Caucasian. 82% urban; 74% rural; 78% suburban
"Whether its traffic, or rising gas prices, or carbon reduction, Americans see rail as a crucial part of our transportation future," said Matthews.
Of those polled, 42% also said the Infrastructure Bill should contain more than the $100 billion currently allotted for rail, including 24% of respondents who thought the bill should contain much more
In many respects the current poll mirrors a survey taken for the TxDOT I-35 Corridor Advisory Committee back in 2010. Results can be found on the Texas Rail Advocates website.