Survey shows demand for passenger rail service among Lawrence Tech students
Nearly 60 percent of Lawrence Technological University students say they would be more likely to take a train between home and school if more frequent service was available, according to a new survey of LTU students conducted by the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission.
The survey of 423 LTU students found that 11 percent have used Amtrak to get from home to school and back in the past.
Lawrence Tech was one of seven four-year colleges and universities in Michigan, and 30 across nine Midwestern states, to participate in this survey. It aims to assess the importance of intercity passenger rail service among college and university students, faculty and staff whose schools are located along current Amtrak routes and help determine what schools, states and the region can do to boost passenger rail service.
Amtrak’s Royal Oak station is about six miles east of LTU’s campus. It is served by three trains daily to and from Chicago. From Chicago, students can board trains serving much of the nation.
“The survey’s encouraging findings are a good first step,” says 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.”
All of Michigan’s intercity passenger rail services are financed primarily by the state of Michigan.
Among results from Lawrence Tech respondents:
- Of the 58 percent who said they would be more likely to take the train if more frequent service was available, 27 percent would be “much more likely,” and 31 percent would be “somewhat more likely.”
- A majority of respondents (63 percent) said they consider passenger rail service important (30 percent) or very important (33 percent) to the United States’ transportation future.
- While just 11 percent of respondents reported that they have taken the train at least once to get to and from Lawrence Tech, 70 percent of those who have taken Amtrak to and from their permanent residence and Lawrence Tech had ridden the train once or twice during the past 12 months. Another 13 percent each say they’ve ridden 3-4 times or at least 10 times.
- For those who have taken the train to or from Lawrence Tech, 58 percent indicate that the Amtrak service is an important resource for them to be able to attend the school. Asked how important Amtrak service is to their ability to attend Lawrence Tech, 28 percent of these respondents said either “very important” or “extremely important.” Another 30 percent say it’s “somewhat important.”
- Among those who had never taken the train to/from Lawrence Tech, a sizable number indicated particular changes that might motivate them to take the train in the future. For example, half indicated “If there was a station close to my permanent residence”, 37 percent indicated “Transportation provided by my college/university to get to the closest Amtrak station” and 36 percent indicated “Information provided by my college/university on how to take the train” might motivate them to use Amtrak to travel to/from the school in the future.
- Most respondents are only “somewhat aware” (39 percent) or “not at all aware” (48 percent) of state and federal governments’ roles in funding passenger rail, including whether to increase service frequency or add new routes.
The online survey was conducted between Nov. 18 and Dec. 9, 2015. Of respondents who identified themselves, 98 percent are students, 1 percent is staff, and 1 percent is faculty. Of student respondents, 88 percent say they are full time.
The Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission is a nine-state interstate compact that promotes, coordinates and supports regional improvements to passenger rail service. More at www.miprc.org.
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