You know that old saw about how greens should shut up about public transportation because Americans hate trains and insist on getting around in their own private chunks of resource-sucking steel and plastic?

Well, that may be going the way of $2/gallon gas. Get this, from a recent poll of North Carolina residents:

Potential new railway options were embraced positively by those surveyed. Commuter rails in urban areas and high-speed train travel between larger cities were supported or strongly supported at 72 and 70 percent of respondents respectively. Respondents also embraced the possibility of a regional rail system in their area, with 65 percent supporting or strongly supporting this concept.

And this:

While respondents appeared willing to support railway services financially, there was general opposition to transportation funding in the areas of road construction and maintenance.

If public transportation is capturing the imaginations of North Carolinians — a state heavily marked by sprawl and car reliance — then folks in other areas, too, are likely ready to embrace the train.

Public investment in a functioning train system might in the end make more sense than propping up biofuel production, waging multi-trillion-dollar oil wars, or mopping up mammoth Wall Street messes.