Surprise! Americans Want Public Transportation
Hot on the heels of debate over a new transportation spending bill, a new poll shows that most Americans want to see more funding for public transportation, and only drive because they have few better options.
In a survey commissioned by the transportation advocacy group Transportation For America (T4), pollsters asked Americans what priorities they’d like to see in an upcoming transportation bill that will replace 2005’s SAFETEA-LU.
It may come as a shock to anyone whose town’s main road features parking lots, strip malls and no mass transit to speak of that most Americans (82 percent) would like to see expanded public transportation that makes better use of rail and buses.
Similarly, though 73 percent of respondents said they have “no choice” but to drive most places, the majority said they’d rather be getting to work, school or vacation some other way — specifically, on a bus, on a bike or on foot.
Support for public transportation was strongest in urban areas and in the Northeast, but a full 58 percent nationwide said that more money should be spent on bus, rail and other public transit. Even in sparsely populated rural areas that may never see a bus or a train pass through, half of respondents said they’d support increased transportation funding.
“In small towns and big cities alike, Americans are saying loudly and clearly that their lives would be better, and their nation stronger, if we had world-class public transportation and more options for walking and bicycling,” said Geoff Anderson, T4 co-chair and CEO of Smart Growth America.
Indeed, support even broke party lines, with 67 percent of Democrats and 49 percent of Republicans favoring transportation money being spent on buses and trains rather than roads and highways.
Before you dismiss the survey as biased, consider that T4 enlisted the help of Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz and Associates, a Democratic-affiliated polling firm, and Public Opinion Strategies, a Republican-affiliated firm. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
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