MNTRC Newsletter Vol. 21, Issue 2: Fall 2014

Voters support transit funding

Leo E. Hanifin, PhD, Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering

chart of results

Five distinct voter groups were represented in the survey.

University of Detroit Mercy News – Apparently, the naysayers are wrong when they say voters would not approve public funding for transportation. When the University of Detroit, Mercy conducted a public opinion poll of 799 likely voters, 87% of them said that transit in the region needs improvement. Further, 67% favor using public taxes and fees to support public transit. Those facts originated from an MNTRC project, Understanding and Building Change in Public Opinion Regarding Transit. Survey results were presented at the Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan (RTA) Board meeting on Wednesday, June 18. The RTA covers the four counties that were surveyed.

The study examined voter attitudes regarding the current state of transit, desired improvement, willingness to support, and the reasons that they would support or oppose. The responses were examined by voter location, income, education, gender and race. Cluster analysis yielded five groups with similar attitudes: supporters, young swing voters, older swing voters, conservative "no's," and those who oppose. 

Dr. Leo Hanifin speaks to group

Dr. Leo Hanifin presents survey results at a public meeting.

More detailed results were requested by the RTA board. Consequently, the UDM team is developing a more comprehensive final project report that will provide greater detail. These presentations have the benefit of informing officials and stakeholders about citizen attitudes in southeast Michigan. In turn, the presentations likely will have a positive influence on successful implementation of a regional transit system and related funding. Ongoing analysis of the research findings has been shared with Transportation Riders United, a partner organization in this research, to facilitate its educational campaign.

The research, which will be published later this year, was led by Dr. Leo Hanifin with a team composed of Professor Xiaohui “Kathy” Zhong of UDM and Megan Owens, executive director of Transportation Riders United. The presentation was repeated at the RTA Citizens Advisory Committee.