Who Likes High-Speed Rail? We do!
In fact, almost two-thirds of us do! That’s the bottom line of a survey conducted by a professional polling firm for the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). The market research included a telephone survey of more than a thousand people randomly selected and the results are fascinating. No … more than that. They’re exciting!
Here are some of the highlights:
—63 percent of all respondents said they would use high-speed trains if they were available.
—That number increased to 67 percent when people were informed as to how much time could be saved on a typical high-speed route and what the cost to passengers would be.
Furthermore, the number went up again—to 71 percent— when the respondents were younger adults, specifically people between the ages of 18 and 44.
“People want high-speed rail in America,” said APTA President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Melaniphy, “and we are seeing support among various ages and in different regions of the country regardless of political party.”
He’s right, although there is a predictable difference between left and right. Still, I do think it’s impressive that 65 percent of Republicans said they would ride the trains after being informed of the benefits of high-speed rail. That number was 10 points higher for people identifying more with the Democrats.
As I’ve mentioned here several times before, the biggest problem is that so few Americans have ever had the opportunity to actually ride a high-speed train.
Here is the link to the entire study with all the results. It makes fascinating reading and, more to the point, it indicates that there is growing sentiment in support of high-speed trains and of passenger rail in general. And why not? It is the way to go!
A few words of caution:
– General opinion polls due to map 1:1 to election polls, this is due to both gerrymandering and the Constitution bias toward rural (now suburban) America.
– Younger people with stronger support for HSR, and transit in general, they do not vote. Nor to they affiliate with political parties, religious institutions, or advocacy organizations. Younger people can like whatever they like; younger America has thrown its power away. I say this as someone who tries to move younger people towards advocacy. Whatever they like, they do not *believe*, nor do they *believe in believing*. Younger America is, very sadly, like having a shadow as backup in a fist-fight. Ask many a candidate that has pursued the youth vote; the youth do not show up **when it matters**.
– America’s population is concentrated, meaning electoral representation is not correlation to the population [see first point]. Whether nationally – where ~80% of the nations population lives in coastal or adjacent counties [meaning the non-coastal voter is much more powerful than the coastal voter] – or regionally as in Michigan where 75% of the population of the state lives in one of two metro regions (Detroit or Grand Rapids) resulting in the 3% of the population living in the Upper Peninsula (30% of the state’s land mass) having more representation per voter than the overall majority of the population. And in what type of region will you find support for HSR and/or transit? In the under-represented 75% of voters.
I like the results of this poll. However I caution anyone excited by the results that is just doesn’t mean anything. Not unless you can find a way to convince younger people that civic engagement is important, productive, and fun [which it is]. If you figure out how to do that *PLEASE* let me know.