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American Public Transportation Association

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Mantill Williams

Two-Thirds of Americans are Likely to Use High-Speed Rail in America if Available, According to Survey​

Washington, D.C.  If you build high-speed rail in America, they will come.  According to a 2015 survey released by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), if high-speed rail were available today, two-thirds (63 percent) of Americans are likely to use high-speed trains and this jumps to nearly seventy (67) percent when respondents were informed of the costs and time saving benefits of high-speed rail service.  

“People want high-speed rail in America and we are seeing support among various ages and in different regions of the country regardless of political party,” said APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy.  “In addition, the millennial generation and younger adults will lead the way with their preferences to have a multi-modal transportation system that supports their lifestyle.  It is critical that we include implementation of high-speed rail as we look to plan for the nation’s future transportation needs.” 

In the survey “High-Speed Rail in America 2015”, conducted by TechnoMetrica for APTA, the likelihood of respondents using high-speed rail for their work and leisure travel increases as they were informed that it will be less expensive than flying and that it will take less time than driving to their destination.  When told of these cost and time saving benefits, Millennials and young people (18-44) strong likelihood of use at 71 percent jumps to 76 percent.  Those respondents who identify as Republican represent the largest growth of intended use, their likelihood of using high-speed rail increases from 58 to 65 percent, followed by Independents, 61 to 67 percent, and Democrats’ already strong likelihood of use goes from 73 to 75 percent   when informed of the savings of time and costs.

“A high-speed rail network will have a tremendous benefit to our entire transportation system,” said Melaniphy.  “It will enable America’s air, rail, bus, ferry and highway systems to each function effectively and efficiently as we face a dramatic population growth that adds more travelers than our current capacity can accommodate.”  

The survey also revealed that Americans overwhelmingly support efforts to streamline government regulations that will promote real-estate development near high-speed rail.  This development could include amenities such as popular retail shops, walkable neighborhoods, and unique dining experiences.  Overall, nearly three quarters of respondents (71 percent) support reducing regulations so that amenities can be built near high-speed rail stations.

“High-speed rail not only provides a great transportation option, but the public’s interest in amenities near high-speed rail stations is another way to create economic growth and jobs in local communities across the country,” said Melaniphy.  “If we have strong investment in high-speed rail, it will be an opportunity to generate real-estate and land use income for the private sector as well as local tax revenue for communities for decades to come.” 

High-Speed Rail in America 2015​ survey was conducted by Techno Metrica for APTA.  The survey includes 1,005 interviews using random digit dial sample of both landline and cell phone numbers.  At the 95 percent confidence level, the margin of error for the respondents’ overall sample is +/-3.2 percentage points.  To see a copy of this data in an infographic format, click here​.


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The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is a nonprofit international association of 1,500 public and private sector organizations, engaged in the areas of bus, paratransit, light rail, commuter rail, subways, waterborne services, and intercity and high-speed passenger rail. This includes: transit systems; planning, design, construction, and finance firms; product and service providers; academic institutions; transit associations and state departments of transportation. APTA is the only association in North America that represents all modes of public transportation. APTA members serve the public interest by providing safe, efficient and economical transit services and products.  More than 90 percent of the people using public transportation in the United States and Canada ride APTA member systems.

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