By a Wide Margin, Americans Favor Transit Expansion Over New Roads

It's not even close. Americans prefer transit spending to road spending. Photo: Wikipedia
It’s not even close. Americans prefer transit spending to road spending. Photo: Wikipedia

If only our nation’s spending priorities more closely tracked public opinion: A new poll [PDF] from ABC News and the Washington Post finds that when presented with the choice, Americans would rather spend transportation resources expanding transit than widening roads.

In a landline and cell phone survey that asked 1,001 randomly selected adults how they prefer “to reduce traffic congestion around
the country,” 54 percent said they would rather see government “providing more public transportation options,” compared to 41 percent who preferred “expanding and building roads.” Five percent offered no opinion on the matter. The survey had a margin of error of 3.5 percent.

Attitudes varied by political leaning, place of residence, and other demographic factors. Urbanites were most likely to prefer transit spending (61 percent), followed by suburbanites (52 percent), then rural residents (49 percent), indicating that transit may be preferred to roads in every setting, though the pollster’s announcement doesn’t include enough detail to say so conclusively.

Among college graduates, racial minorities, people under 40, very high earners, and political liberals and independents, majorities favor transit expansion. Meanwhile, strong conservatives, evangelical white protestants, and white men without college degrees are more likely to favor road spending.

The poll release was timed in conjunction with Tuesday’s Washington Post forum on transportation issues.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Poll: Voters From All Walks Support Transportation Improvements, Reform

|
Don’t be fooled by the high-pitched rhetoric in Washington. The vast majority of Americans are united, at least when it comes to the topic of transportation. That’s the conclusion of the Rockefeller Foundation poll released earlier this week. A bipartisan polling team questioned 1,000 American voters nationwide about their attitudes toward the nation’s roads, bridges […]

NRDC Poll: Americans Support New Transit Twice as Much as New Roads

|
When asked what would solve traffic problems in their community, 42 percent of Americans say more transit. Only 20 percent say more roads. And 21 percent would like to see communities developed that don’t require so much driving. Two-thirds support local planning that guides new development into existing cities and near public transportation. That’s the […]

New Poll: Support For Transit Expansion Transcends Rural-Urban Divide

|
How respondents replied to the following statement: "My community would benefit from an expanded and improved public transportation system, such as rail or buses." (Chart: T4A) Despite the frequent reluctance of rural lawmakers to support more federal investment in transit, a majority of rural and urban voters alike believe their home towns would gain from […]

Report: Investing in Transit Could Create 180,000 Jobs, for Free

|
Between calls for renewed stimulus on the one hand and for deficit reduction on the other, Washington, D.C. is stuck. A new report by the Transportation Equity Network, however, shows one easy way out of that political stalemate: shifting our transportation spending to transit. According to the report, written by University of Missouri-St. Louis researchers […]

Rasmussen: Americans Want More Federal Support for Transit

|
Rasmussen Reports, the polling firm that got the 2012 election completely wrong, asked 1,000 Americans last week how they feel about public transportation [PDF]. The takeaway they reported was this: “74% Rarely or Never Use Mass Transit.” On the flip side, 6 percent said they used transit every day or nearly every day, and another […]