Publication Date

Spring 5-13-2023

Document Type

Student Project

First Advisor

Kidder, Jeffrey

Degree Name

B.S. (Bachelor of Science)


Department of Sociology


The train is often seen as a slow, old, and antiquated mode of transportation, and the prevalence of train travel in the modern-day United States is nowhere near where it once was. Other methods of transportation, such as the airplane or the automobile, have taken over as primary choices for travelers in the country. The Bureau of Transportation Statistics (2022) reported approximately 80,400,000 trips were taken by airplane in July 2022, compared with just 2,500,000 trips taken via intercity rail in the same time period. However, more than 300 intercity trains operate daily via the quasi-public corporation Amtrak and serve over 500 different cities and municipalities across the United States (Amtrak 2023). As such, there is still an obvious demand for rail travel in the country, and Amtrak is continuing efforts to expand their network. In this paper, I argue that the use of intercity rail service allows riders to experience what I call the active co-presence with other passengers by permitting a unique freedom of movement while traveling. Additionally, I provide evidence for the ways intercity rail increases social connectivity in rural areas that otherwise have few transportation options by the private automobile.