Kentuckians Support Rail Service, But It Could Still Face Challenges

Nov 25, 2013

A new survey shows strong support for passenger rail service in Kentucky.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s “Your Turn” survey sought input on transportation from over 16,000 respondents in every county across the state. Development of a passenger rail service ranked as the second-highest public transportation issue, narrowly behind better bus service.

David Coyte is the president for the Coalition for the Advancement of Regional Transportation Kentucky. He says even though Kentucky hasn’t had passenger rail since AMTRAK in the 1970s, support for rail-based transit is stronger than ever.

“There still seems to be a lot of interest generated, some from people’s past experiences, but mostly from seeing what’s happening in other cities and hopefully from some sort of understanding about the economics and efficiency of rail, that really have caught people’s attention,” he says.

Coyte adds that the influence of automobile and highway interests as well as the high upfront construction costs of rail are the two biggest challenges to better train service.

“I think it’s gonna take a move away from the short-term thinking that’s dominated politics and business for a long time,” he says. “We have to start thinking about the long-term health of this nation as opposed to the short-term health of companies and election cycles for politicians.”

Coyte says his organization—which is currently appealing its lawsuit to halt construction of the Ohio River Bridges Project—lacks the funds to lobby the issue in the statehouse.