Many Americans Feel Safer Flying or Taking the Bus Than Riding the Amtrak

Crashes, derailments and other safety issues appear to be on the rise for Amtrak. On February 6, a Boston-bound Amtrak Acela train came apart after leaving D.C.’s Union Station and, only two days before, a Miami-bound Amtrak train collided with a freight train killing two Amtrak crew members—the fourth deadly crash in only two months.

It is no wonder that Americans are more hesitant to use the train service. A recent survey from The Harris Poll found that a majority of Americans now feel safer driving or flying on a commercial flight than riding the Amtrak train.

Released yesterday, the poll focused on how the Amtrak accidents have affected Americans’ travel habits. More than half of Americans (68%) feel safer driving or traveling on a commercial flight (66%) than taking an Amtrak train.

Our online poll, which surveyed 1,003 adults over the age of 18 between February 7-8, discovered that three-quarters of Americans are familiar with Amtrak’s recent spate of safety incidents. 70% of those familiar with the accidents feel safer driving than taking an Amtrak train, while nearly half (48%) of them feel safer taking a bus than an Amtrak train.

“Trains are safer than cars or buses, statistically speaking,” said John Gerzema, CEO of The Harris Poll. “But when a string of accidents occur people tend to throw the records out the window. Even 4 in 10 Americans (39%) say they are actively avoiding taking Amtrak trains based on their current safety record.”

Our data also showed that one-third of Americans (33%) feel less safe taking an Amtrak train today than in the past; and those familiar with the latest accidents are more than four times more likely than those who are not/not very familiar to feel this way (41% vs. 9%).