OneRail Coalition Poll Confirms Strong Support for Rail

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WASHINGTON, DC, November 15, 2021 – Americans’ support for rail remains strong, showing increases from 2020 for commuting short distances, travelling long distances, improving the environment and meeting growing freight transportation demands, according to a new poll conducted by ENGINE INSIGHTS on behalf of the OneRail Coalition.  

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%.

“These survey results affirm that Americans continue to strongly support freight railroads, passenger rail and public transit,” said OneRail Coalition DirectorDevon 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 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 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 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.

Download and share our social media graphics (png format):

83% of Americans believe we should shift more trips to public transit, passenger rail and freight rail to reduce GHG emissions.

82% of Americans support Congress providing more funding to address highway-rail crossing safety.

7 out of 10 Americans view public transit and passenger rail favorably after the pandemic.

1 out of 2 Americans believe we should be investing more in public transit and passenger rail.

86% of Americans consider freight railroads important to the U.S. economy.

6 out of 10 Americans favor moving freight over land by rail as opposed to truck.

About the OneRail Coalition

The OneRail Coalition is a diverse group of stakeholders who have come together to educate America about the benefits of a strong freight and passenger rail system. Learn more;follow OneRail on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.


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