Kentucky poll shows Amtrak support

Kentucky poll shows Amtrak support
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A poll conducted by a transportation union found that 58 percent of voters in Kentucky have a favorable opinion of Amtrak.

The poll, which was conducted by the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation (SMART) union, found voters in Kentucky supported Amtrak by a 58percent to 10 percent margin, despite the rail company having few routes in the state.

The poll showed only 15 percent of voters in the conservative state supported eliminating Amtrak funding, while 70 percent called for establishing rail service between the Bluegrass State, and places like Chicago and New York City.

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Amtrak supporters said the Kentucky poll showed the rail company had support across the political spectrum.

"Passenger rail has a long, proud history in Kentucky and Amtrak in particular enjoys support from Kentuckians, regardless of their political views. That's the clear message of a recent poll that finds bipartisan support for maintaining or expanding Amtrak service," SMART President John Previsich and AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department (TTD) President Ed Wytkind wrote in an op-ed that was published in the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Lawmakers are expected to begin debating a new round of funding for Amtrak soon. Since its inception in 1971, the rail company has received about $1 billion a year from the federal government.

Some Republicans have pushed to reduce or eliminate the company's funding, arguing that Amtrak should support itself on the money it collects from selling tickets to passengers.

Amtrak supporters have countered the GOP's push by arguing that other forms of transportation, like highways and airports, also receive subsidies from the federal government.

Previsich and Wytkind said lawmakers should be chastened against cutting Amtrak funding by the Kentucky poll numbers.

"With Congress preparing to rewrite the law that governs Amtrak, now is the time for elected officials to listen to their constituents," the labor leaders wrote in their op-ed.

"The popularity of Amtrak transcends blue state/red state divisions, offering a striking example of non-partisan pragmatism that elected leaders would do well to emulate," the op-ed continued. "After all, providing passenger rail service is not a Democratic or Republican issue, it's a public interest issue."

The full Kentucky Amtrak poll can be read here.