More Than A Third Of Americans Aware Of High Speed Rail Projects In Their State

    NEW YORK, N.Y. – February 24, 2011 – President Obama announced in April 2009, and reconfirmed during his recent State of the Union address, his commitment to develop high-speed intercity passenger rail across the United States.

    High-speed rail is a type of passenger rail transport between major cities that operates at substantially faster speeds than current intercity passenger trains in the U.S. It is designed to provide fast, reliable, and convenient service, operates using electric power and often includes onboard amenities such as food and beverage service and Wi-fi access.

    The Harris Poll conducted an online survey among 2,566 adults between January 17 and 24, 2011 to gauge awareness, intention to use and position on funding for high-speed rail. At the time of the survey, there were ten proposed high-speed rail corridors across the United Statesª. To-date, projects in California and Florida have been the most visible.

    When Americans were asked about awareness of high-speed rail projects, only a little more than a third (35%) of those living in one of the proposed high-speed rail corridors said they are aware of a high-speed rail project that is either proposed or under development in their state, with more than four in ten (45%) unsure. The relatively low awareness of high-speed rail across the country is not surprising given the disparate, regional nature of today’s hottest HSR debates said Linda Schulz, Vice President of Public Affairs and Policy at Harris Interactive. However, as discussions become more prominent in more areas, and as projects get underway, we will be well positioned to monitor changing awareness and attitudes. Not surprisingly, awareness is highest in states where HSR is developing the fastest (68% are aware in California corridor, 60% in Florida). Awareness in other states with proposed high-speed rail projects include the Chicago Hub at 31% and New York at 28%.

    After explaining HSR, two thirds of Americans (66%) indicate they are somewhat or very likely to consider using the service when traveling for pleasure, but that number drops in half (33%) when asked about travel for business. Men, however, are more likely to consider HSR travel than women for both business and pleasure. Additionally, those with more education and greater income are also more likely to consider traveling by high-speed rail.

    Factors in Choosing High-speed Rail

    There are many factors that may impact the use of high-speed rail, but cost (81%), location of train stations (68%), overall trip time (65%) and safety (61%) are the primary factors that people would consider before choosing to utilize high-speed rail. Both cost and safety are especially important to women compared to men.

    Funding High-speed Rail

    A very public issue surrounding high-speed rail today is funding. Several states have declined the use of federal funds including Ohio, Wisconsin and most recently Florida (this survey was conducted before Florida declined funding). However, almost two thirds of Americans (64%) say they somewhat or strongly support using state funding for HSR and a similar number (62%) support using federal funds. The areas with the greatest support for high-speed rail funding include the California corridor where 70% support state funding being used and 73% support federal funding. 70% of both the Pacific North West and Gulf corridor residents also support state funding with more than 60% each also supporting federal funding. Additionally, more than two thirds of Florida residents support state and federal funding of high-speed rail, a particularly poignant point, notes Schulz, as Florida recently declined federal HSR funding the state had actively sought. While those in states without a high-speed rail project still support state funding (61%), they are more likely to oppose federal funding for these projects (32%).

    So What?

    With the relatively steep prices and the time consuming security processes associated with current airline travel, and increases in the cost of gasoline affecting highway travel, American consumers may be looking for a travel alternative. While many of them are not aware of high-speed rail plans, on balance they support using government funds to develop high-speed rail projects, yet time will tell how many of these projects successfully get underway, and how many Americans then take advantage of them. Of course, it should also be noted, this has become a highly politicized issue with Republicans, Democrats and Independents expressing varying levels of support for the development and allocation of funds to HSR.

     

    TABLE 1

    AWARENESS OF HSR

    High-speed rail is a type of passenger rail transport between major cities that operates at substantially faster speeds than current intercity passenger trains in the U.S. High-speed rail is designed to provide fast, reliable, and convenient service between select major cities. It operates using electric power and often includes onboard amenities such as food and beverage service and Wi-fi access. Do you know if high-speed passenger rail service is being proposed or under development in your state?

    Base: All adults

    Total

    States with HSR projects

    HSR Corridors (states included in each listed below) ª

    South-east

    CA

    Pacific NW

    South Central

    Gulf Coast

    Chicago Hub

    FL

    Key-stone (PA)

    Empire (NY)

    North. NE

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Yes, one is proposed or under development (NET)

    33

    35

    21

    68

    25

    12

    25

    31

    60

    24

    28

    25

    Yes, one is proposed

    25

    26

    17

    48

    11

    12

    16

    25

    50

    20

    17

    22

    Yes, one is under development

    8

    9

    4

    20

    14

     

    9

    6

    10

    4

    11

    3

    No, one is not proposed nor under development

    22

    20

    22

    5

    28

    34

    28

    26

    3

    15

    18

    21

    Not at all sure

    44

    45

    57

    27

    47

    54

    46

    43

    37

    61

    53

    54

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding; indicates less than .05%

    ª 10 High Speed Rail Corridors – South East Corridor (Washington DC, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia and South Carolina), California Corridor (California & Nevada), Pacific North West Corridor (Washington & Oregon), South central Corridor (Oklahoma and Arkansas), Gulf Coast Corridor (Texas Louisiana & Alabama), Chicago Hub (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Missouri, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Minnesota), Florida Corridor (Florida), Keystone Corridor (Pennsylvania) Empire Corridor (New York) and Northern New England Corridor (Massachusetts, Main, Connecticut).

    Other States Impacted by High Speed Rail – Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Rhode Island and Tennessee.

    NON-High Speed Rail States – Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming.

     

    TABLE 2A

    FUNDING FOR HSR – STATE FUNDING

    Development of the intercity passenger rail system is paid for by both Federal and state governments, similar to how most other infrastructure projects are funded. Operating costs are the responsibility of each state and/or the private sector. Currently the Federal Government is offering funds to the states for high-speed rail projects. Knowing this, how do you feel about state and federal funds being used for High-speed Rail?

    State funding

    Base: All adults

    Total

    States with HSR projects

    States with no HSR projects

    HSR Corridors

    South-east

    CA

    Pacific NW

    South Central

    Gulf Coast

    Chicago

    FL

    Key-stone

    Empire

    North. NE

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Support (NET)

    64

    63

    61

    64

    70

    70

    64

    70

    55

    67

    55

    57

    57

    Strongly support

    31

    29

    26

    34

    35

    24

    16

    35

    24

    32

    28

    34

    19

    Somewhat support

    33

    33

    35

    30

    35

    46

    49

    35

    32

    35

    28

    23

    38

    Oppose (NET)

    21

    22

    25

    20

    21

    16

    15

    17

    25

    21

    24

    26

    29

    Somewhat oppose

    11

    11

    18

    12

    8

    11

    7

    8

    11

    11

    16

    13

    23

    Strongly oppose

    11

    11

    7

    8

    13

    6

    7

    10

    14

    10

    8

    14

    6

    Not at all sure

    15

    16

    14

    16

    9

    13

    21

    13

    20

    12

    21

    17

    15

    Total

    Political Party

    Rep.

    Dem.

    Ind.

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Support (NET)

    64

    52

    74

    66

    Strongly support

    31

    18

    43

    28

    Somewhat support

    33

    34

    31

    39

    Oppose (NET)

    21

    35

    12

    21

    Somewhat oppose

    11

    17

    7

    10

    Strongly oppose

    11

    18

    5

    11

    Not at all sure

    15

    13

    13

    13

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

     

    TABLE 2B

    FUNDING FOR HSR – FEDERAL FUNDING

    Development of the intercity passenger rail system is paid for by both Federal and state governments, similar to how most other infrastructure projects are funded. Operating costs are the responsibility of each state and/or the private sector. Currently the Federal Government is offering funds to the states for high-speed rail projects. Knowing this, how do you feel about state and federal funds being used for High-speed Rail?

    Federal funding

    Base: All adults

    Total

    States with HSR projects

    States with no HSR projects

    HSR Corridors

    South-east

    CA

    Pacific NW

    South Central

    Gulf Coast

    Chicago

    FL

    Key-stone

    Empire

    North. NE

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Support (NET)

    62

    62

    53

    60

    73

    63

    64

    66

    57

    66

    47

    59

    56

    Strongly support

    31

    29

    17

    32

    41

    21

    19

    32

    25

    32

    24

    32

    21

    Somewhat support

    32

    32

    36

    28

    32

    42

    44

    34

    32

    34

    24

    27

    35

    Oppose (NET)

    23

    23

    32

    24

    18

    24

    18

    21

    24

    22

    31

    24

    30

    Somewhat oppose

    11

    11

    19

    12

    7

    19

    12

    9

    10

    10

    16

    12

    23

    Strongly oppose

    12

    12

    13

    13

    12

    5

    6

    12

    14

    12

    15

    12

    7

    Not at all sure

    15

    15

    14

    16

    9

    13

    18

    13

    19

    12

    22

    17

    14

    Total

    Political Party

    Rep.

    Dem.

    Ind.

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Support (NET)

    62

    50

    75

    63

    Strongly support

    31

    17

    43

    29

    Somewhat support

    32

    32

    32

    34

    Oppose (NET)

    23

    38

    12

    24

    Somewhat oppose

    11

    16

    8

    12

    Strongly oppose

    12

    21

    4

    12

    Not at all sure

    15

    13

    13

    13

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

     

    TABLE 3A

    LIKELY TO USE HSR – FOR BUSINESS

    Based on your understanding of high-speed rail service, if it were available, how likely are you to use this service for the following types of travel?

    Travel for business

    Base: All adults

    Total

    Gender

    Education

    Income

    Male

    Female

    H.S. or less

    Some college

    College grad

    Post grad

    $34.9K or less

    $35K-$49.9K

    $50K-$74.9K

    $75K-$99.9K

    $100K+

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Likely (NET)

    33

    39

    27

    23

    35

    43

    52

    28

    23

    42

    30

    43

    Very likely

    18

    22

    14

    13

    17

    21

    35

    13

    9

    26

    17

    25

    Somewhat likely

    15

    18

    13

    10

    18

    22

    17

    15

    14

    15

    13

    18

    Unlikely (NET)

    57

    51

    63

    65

    55

    51

    41

    61

    68

    47

    60

    51

    Not that likely

    11

    12

    11

    9

    12

    15

    13

    7

    14

    8

    13

    16

    Not at all likely

    46

    39

    53

    57

    43

    35

    28

    54

    54

    38

    47

    35

    Not at all sure

    10

    10

    10

    11

    10

    7

    7

    11

    9

    12

    10

    6

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

     

    TABLE 3B

    LIKELY TO USE HSR – FOR PLEASURE

    Based on your understanding of high-speed rail service, if it were available, how likely are you to use this service for the following types of travel?

    Travel for pleasure

    Base: All adults

    Total

    Gender

    Education

    Income

    Male

    Female

    H.S. or less

    Some college

    College grad

    Post grad

    $34.9K or less

    $35K-$49.9K

    $50K-$74.9K

    $75K-$99.9K

    $100K+

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Likely (NET)

    66

    69

    63

    55

    72

    75

    81

    59

    64

    71

    65

    74

    Very likely

    37

    40

    34

    28

    41

    40

    53

    28

    35

    43

    39

    46

    Somewhat likely

    30

    29

    30

    27

    31

    35

    28

    32

    29

    28

    26

    28

    Unlikely (NET)

    27

    24

    29

    35

    22

    21

    14

    30

    29

    22

    28

    22

    Not that likely

    10

    9

    10

    11

    9

    10

    7

    8

    10

    8

    14

    10

    Not at all likely

    17

    15

    18

    25

    13

    10

    7

    22

    19

    14

    13

    12

    Not at all sure

    7

    6

    8

    10

    6

    5

    5

    10

    7

    7

    7

    4

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

     

    TABLE 4

    FACTORS IN USING HSR

    If you were making travel decisions and high-speed rail was an option, what factors would you consider when deciding whether or not to purchase?

    Base: All adults

    Total

    Gender

    Male

    Female

    %

    %

    %

    Cost/affordability

    81

    79

    84

    Convenience of train station locations

    68

    66

    70

    Overall trip time

    65

    65

    65

    Safety

    61

    56

    65

    Reliability

    58

    58

    59

    Comfort, including seat and mobility options

    57

    56

    59

    Efficiency of security check/process

    37

    34

    39

    Amenities offered (cell phone use, WiFi, etc)

    33

    33

    32

    Environmental impact

    23

    21

    25

    Other

    2

    2

    2

    Not sure

    9

    8

    10

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

     

    Methodology

    This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between January 17 to 24, 2011 among 2,566 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

    All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words margin of error as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

    Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

    These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

     

    The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

    J39369

    Q930, 935, 937, 940, 945, 950, 955

    The Harris Poll ® #24, February 24, 2011

    By Linda Schulz, Vice President, Public Affairs, Harris Interactive

    About Harris Interactive

    Harris Interactive is one of the world’s leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American, European, and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us – and our clients – stay ahead of what’s next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.