Do you want more passenger rail service in Alabama?

February 12, 2016

Guest Voices at AL.com, By John Previsich, president of SMART – Transportation Division www.utu.org and Edward Wytkind, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO www.ttd.org.

Alabamians sure love their college football, but what we’ve just recently learned is that they also like their passenger trains — and they’re willing to pay for them. A recent state-wide poll by DFM Research shows that passenger trains don’t only thrive in the big cities on the corridor between Washington, D.C. and Boston – they are quite popular in the Heart of Dixie, too.Website Insert 5000 New Seats copy

More than half of those polled in Alabama say they want to see an increase in the service provided by Amtrak, our national passenger railroad. When asked about expanding Amtrak’s once-daily passenger service through Alabama, nearly 85 percent support the idea of adding an additional route from Birmingham or Mobile to New Orleans or Atlanta. This poll shouldn’t surprise anyone given that others in Gulf Coast states are pushing aggressively to restart Amtrak service lost after the Hurricane Katrina disaster.

The people of Alabama aren’t alone in their views. All across the country, in red states and blue, in rural counties and major metropolitan cities, Americans are calling for more passenger rail service — and it’s easy to see why. With 31 million passengers last year alone, Amtrak’s popularity has soared, and over the last decade, Amtrak has broken its ridership record almost annually. Here’s the best part: during a time when pollsters are churning out the views of voters on a daily basis, our national passenger railroad actually polls better than anyone auditioning for president.

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