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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Study finds market for rail in La Crosse

From an editorial in the La Crosse Tribune:

A study by a team of business students at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse found a great deal of enthusiasm for high-speed rail among La Crosse area business people.

Megan Louwagie, Brianna Murray, Bryant Poss and Chelsey Wagner conducted the study, sponsored by the La Crosse Area High-Speed Rail Coalition, for their Business 230 class, using 545 e-mail surveys returned by area business people.

The respondents were well aware of La Crosse's position as a possible stop on a proposed high-speed rail line between Chicago and the Twin Cities (an average of 4.41 on a five-point scale, on which one is "not aware" and 5 is "very aware"), and 83 percent said they would use high-speed rail to travel to destinations along the proposed La Crosse route.

Business people are generally news-savvy, and their awareness of the high-speed rail issue wasn't surprising. But the

students' original premise was that area business people wouldn't be all that interested in actually using a passenger rail system.

The data the students compiled proved their assumption incorrect, both for business and leisure travel.

The average respondent was quite interested in using such a system (4.33 on a five-point scale), and high-frequency departures and arrivals (six trains per day in each direction) would increase their use of passenger rail (4.72 on a five-point scale).

Fourteen percent of respondents reported they presently use Amtrak.

On average, business people rated the importance of bringing a high-speed rail route through the city to be a 4.01 on a five-point scale (again one being "not important" and five being "very important").

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