National Survey Shows Americans Broadly Support Investments in Public Transit, Walking, and Biking

פורסם: 10 באפר׳ 2010, 1:27 על ידי: Sustainability Org
by Michael Graham Richard, Ottawa, Canada on 04. 6.10
Cars & Transportation

public-transit pie chart image
Image: Transportation for America

Time to Go From Words to Actions
A national poll by Transportation for America (T4A), a policy organization mostly focused on "public transportation, smart growth, and environmentalism", has found that a majority of voters in the U.S. favor more investments in public transit and safe walking and biking. T4A puts it this way: "If Americans were crafting the transportation bill, we would see a doubling of the share for public transportation."

public-transit pie chart image
Image: Transportation for America

More than four-in-five voters (82 percent) say that "the United States would benefit from an expanded and improved transportation system, such as rail and buses" and a solid majority (56 percent) "strongly agree" with that statement. This is a widely held view with overwhelming majorities of voters in every region of the country and in every type of community. Fully 79 percent of rural voters agreed with the statement, despite much lower use of public transportation compared to Americans in urban areas.

When asked about reducing traffic congestion, three-in-five voters choose improving public transportation and making it easier to walk and bike over building more roads and expanding existing roads (59% to 38%). [...]

These same respondents would prefer to almost double the allocation to public transportation, saying that 37 cents of every federal transportation dollar is what they think should be the norm. Fully 59% of the electorate cite some amount that is greater than what the federal government currently spends (18 cents or greater). (source)

Grain of Salt
Of course, surveys conducted by organisations that favor one thing or another tend to come out in favor of what the organisation wants (there's selection bias going on - they probably wouldn't publish a survey that said the opposite), so it must be taken with a grain of salt. But even if the numbers are a bit higher than they would otherwise be for one reason or another, they're still very encouraging. It could be a sign that voters want something that politicians just never really offered them (so far).

Another problem is to help people go from words to actions. People might say they want something, but that doesn't mean that they'll all go out and do it. Still, it's a lot easier to bridge that gap when people are at least receptive to the idea. If most people were totally opposed to more transit/walking/bikes, building infrastructure for them would probably have a much smaller effect than for people who want to do it. As we've seen in cities that have invested in greener transportation, the investments pay off.