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Rail News: Passenger Rail

Survey highlights interest in passenger-rail service among Midwestern college students


More than half of the respondents in a recent survey of Midwestern college students, faculty and staff said they'd be willing to take an Amtrak train to and from their schools if more frequent service were available.

Nearly 19,200 respondents at 30 schools across nine Midwestern states participated in the online survey, which was conducted by the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission (MIPRC) between November 2015 and February 2016.

The survey also found that nearly a quarter of the participants have ridden Amtrak trains to or from school, MIPRC officials said in a press release. Additionally, 68 percent said they consider passenger-rail service important to the United States' transportation future.

"Not only is there a solid ridership base today, but the survey shows enormous passenger growth potential could result from well-targeted marketing and education campaigns. That's as good a 'return on investment' as we could hope to find," said Missouri Sen. David Pearce (R-Warrensburg), chair of the MIPRC University Partnerships Committee, in a press release.

For those who have ridden a train to or from their campus, 65 percent indicated that Amtrak service is an important resource for them to be able to attend school. Among those who had never taken a train to get to school, 44 percent said they'd be willing to do so if there were stations close to their permanent residences.

Another 28 percent of participants said that transportation provided by their school to get to the nearest Amtrak station might motivate them to use the passenger-rail service in the future.

"The survey's encouraging findings are a good first step," said Tim Hoeffner, MIPRC's chair and director of the Office of Rail at the Michigan Department of Transportation. "We look forward to working with our partner states, Amtrak and schools in highlighting the advantages of passenger rail for what is clearly a growth market."

Of respondents who identified themselves, 75 percent were students, 15 percent were staff and 10 percent were faculty. Of student respondents, 90 percent were full time.