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More Than a Third of Americans Aware of High Speed Rail Projects in Their State

February 24, 2011

NEW YORK, Feb. 24, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — 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.

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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 States(a). 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
                                     HSR Corridors (states included in
                                         each listed below) (ª)
                             States
                              with
                               HSR
                            projects
                      Total
                                      South-        Pacific    South   Gulf
                                      east    CA       NW     Central  Coast
                        %      %        %      %       %         %      %
    Yes, one is
     proposed or
     under
     development
     (NET)               33       35      21   68        25        12     25
         Yes, one is
          proposed       25       26      17   48        11        12     16
         Yes, one is
          under
          development     8        9       4   20        14      *         9
    No, one is
     not
     proposed
     nor under
     development         22       20      22    5        28        34     28
    Not at all
     sure                44       45      57   27        47        54     46


                       HSR Corridors (states included in
                            each listed below) (ª)
                                         Key-
                        Chicago         stone    Empire   North.
                          Hub    FL      (PA)    (NY)       NE
                          %       %       %        %        %
    Yes, one is
     proposed or
     under
     development
     (NET)                   31   60        24       28       25
         Yes, one is
          proposed           25   50        20       17       22
         Yes, one is
          under
          development         6   10         4       11        3
    No, one is
     not
     proposed
     nor under
     development             26    3        15       18       21
    Not at all
     sure                    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
                         States  States with
                  Total   with       no         HSR Corridors
                           HSR       HSR
                        projects  projects
                                             South-        Pacific  South
                                             east    CA       NW   Central
                    %      %         %         %      %       %       %
    Support
     (NET)           64       63          61     64   70        70      64
         Strongly
          support    31       29          26     34   35        24      16
         Somewhat
          support    33       33          35     30   35        46      49
    Oppose
     (NET)           21       22          25     20   21        16      15
         Somewhat
          oppose     11       11          18     12    8        11       7
         Strongly
          oppose     11       11           7      8   13         6       7
    Not at
     all sure        15       16          14     16    9        13      21


                               HSR Corridors
                    Gulf                  Key-            North.
                    Coast  Chicago  FL    stone  Empire     NE
                     %        %      %     %        %       %
    Support
     (NET)             70       55   67      55      57       57
         Strongly
          support      35       24   32      28      34       19
         Somewhat
          support      35       32   35      28      23       38
    Oppose
     (NET)             17       25   21      24      26       29
         Somewhat
          oppose        8       11   11      16      13       23
         Strongly
          oppose       10       14   10       8      14        6
    Not at
     all sure          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
                         States  States with
                  Total   with       no         HSR Corridors
                           HSR       HSR
                        projects  projects
                                             South-        Pacific  South
                                             east    CA       NW   Central
                    %      %         %         %      %       %       %
    Support
     (NET)           62       62          53     60   73        63      64
         Strongly
          support    31       29          17     32   41        21      19
         Somewhat
          support    32       32          36     28   32        42      44
    Oppose
     (NET)           23       23          32     24   18        24      18
         Somewhat
          oppose     11       11          19     12    7        19      12
         Strongly
          oppose     12       12          13     13   12         5       6
    Not at all
     sure            15       15          14     16    9        13      18


                               HSR Corridors
                    Gulf                  Key-            North.
                    Coast  Chicago  FL    stone  Empire     NE
                     %        %      %     %        %       %
    Support
     (NET)             66       57   66      47      59       56
         Strongly
          support      32       25   32      24      32       21
         Somewhat
          support      34       32   34      24      27       35
    Oppose
     (NET)             21       24   22      31      24       30
         Somewhat
          oppose        9       10   10      16      12       23
         Strongly
          oppose       12       14   12      15      12        7
    Not at all
     sure              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
                                            H.S. or    Some     College   Post
                             Male  Female    less     college    grad     grad
                        %      %      %       %          %         %       %
    Likely (NET)         33    39      27        23        35        43     52
         Very likely     18    22      14        13        17        21     35
         Somewhat
          likely         15    18      13        10        18        22     17
    Unlikely
     (NET)               57    51      63        65        55        51     41
         Not that
          likely         11    12      11         9        12        15     13
         Not at all
          likely         46    39      53        57        43        35     28
    Not at all
     sure                10    10      10        11        10         7      7


                                             Income
                     $34.9K or less $35K-$49.9K $50K-$74.9K $75K-$99.9K $100K+
                            %             %           %           %        %
    Likely (NET)                 28          23          42          30     43
         Very likely             13           9          26          17     25
         Somewhat
          likely                 15          14          15          13     18
    Unlikely
     (NET)                       61          68          47          60     51
         Not that
          likely                  7          14           8          13     16
         Not at all
          likely                 54          54          38          47     35
    Not at all
     sure                        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
                                            H.S. or    Some     College   Post
                             Male  Female    less     college    grad     grad
                        %      %      %       %          %         %       %
    Likely (NET)         66    69      63        55        72        75     81
         Very likely     37    40      34        28        41        40     53
         Somewhat
          likely         30    29      30        27        31        35     28
    Unlikely
     (NET)               27    24      29        35        22        21     14
         Not that
          likely         10     9      10        11         9        10      7
         Not at all
          likely         17    15      18        25        13        10      7
    Not at all
     sure                 7     6       8        10         6         5      5


                                             Income
                     $34.9K or less $35K-$49.9K $50K-$74.9K $75K-$99.9K $100K+
                            %             %           %           %        %
    Likely (NET)                 59          64          71          65     74
         Very likely             28          35          43          39     46
         Somewhat
          likely                 32          29          28          26     28
    Unlikely
     (NET)                       30          29          22          28     22
         Not that
          likely                  8          10           8          14     10
         Not at all
          likely                 22          19          14          13     12
    Not at all
     sure                        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.


    Press Contact:
    Corporate Communications
    Harris Interactive
    212-539-9600
    press@harrisinteractive.net

SOURCE Harris Interactive


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