By Angie Schmitt, October 23, 2014
It’s not even close. Americans prefer transit spending to road spending.
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.