More than half of Americans are avoiding Amtrak

February 15, 2018

More than half of Americans (68%) feel safer either driving or taking a commercial flight (66%) than taking an Amtrak train, based on findings of a Harris Poll conducted early in February among 1,003 adults nationwide.

Crashes, derailments and other safety issues have discouraged customers from traveling by train, the polling organization reports: 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 crew members—the fourth deadly crash in only two months.

Indeed, 70% of those familiar with the accidents believe they are safer driving their own vehicle than taking to the rails; 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 occurs, people tend to throw the records out the window…. [About 39% of respondents] say they are actively avoiding taking Amtrak trains, based on their current safety record.”

The 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% versus 9%).

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