One common yet effective method used by planners to evaluate the impacts of mass transportation modes is an on-board survey of modal users. An abundance of research exists on this topic from the perspective of evaluating urban transit services; however, background literature on the application of on-board surveys for intercity passenger rail is limited. This paper contributes to passenger rail planning by reporting on the lessons learned during a research project which included an on-board survey of passengers on the Heartland Flyer, a passenger rail route between Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and Fort Worth, Texas. Transit on-board survey literature and insight gained from past on-board surveys of intercity rail passengers were used to guide the design of this case study. Lessons learned during the on-board data collection and quality control review process are also reported. Renewed investment in the nation’s intercity passenger rail network will likely result in the need to answer critical questions about how infrastructure funds are being distributed. To answer these critical questions, the lessons learned from this case study can be used to guide the development of future on-board surveys of intercity passenger rail routes. Potential applications include the evaluation of on-board service and amenities or data to support funding requests for state appropriations or grant programs established by the Passenger Rail Improvement and Investment Act of 2008. Measuring these impacts will play a critical role in the strength of funding applications, particularly in a policy environment with a renewed sense of accountability and transparency in the use of scarce public resources for transportation investment.

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