Investing in California’s Transportation Future: Public Opinion on Critical Needs

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Investing in California’s Transportation Future: Public Opinion on Critical Needs


In 2017, the State of California adopted landmark legislation to increase the funds available for transportation in the state: Senate Bill 1 (SB1), the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017. Through a combination of higher gas and diesel motor fuel taxes, SB1 raises revenue for four critical transportation needs in the state: road maintenance and rehabilitation, relief from congestion, improvements to trade corridors, and improving transit and rail services.

To help state leaders identify the most important projects and programs to fund within those four topical areas, we conducted an online survey that asked a sample of 3,574 adult Californians their thoughts on how the state can achieve the SB1 objectives. The survey was administered from April to August 2019 with a survey platform and panel of respondents managed by Qualtrics. Quota sampling ensured that the final sample closely reflects California adults in terms of key socio-demographic characteristics and geographic distribution.

Key findings included very strong support for improving all transportation modes, reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, and more convenient options to travel without driving. Respondents placed particular value on better maintenance for both local streets and roads, as well as highways. Finally, the majority of respondents assessed all types of transportation infrastructure in their communities as somewhat or very good.


Dr. Asha Weinstein Agrawal is the Director of the MTI National Transportation Finance Center and also Professor of Urban and Regional Planning at San José State University. Her research and teaching interests in transportation policy and planning include transportation finance, bicycle and pedestrian planning, and travel survey methods. She also works in the area of transportation history. She has a B.A. from Harvard University in Folklore and Mythology, an M.Sc. in Urban and Regional Planning from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and a PhD in City and Regional Planning from the University of California, Berkeley.

Dr. Hilary Nixon is Deputy Executive Director for the Mineta Transportation Institute. She specializes in transportation and environmental planning and policy, and her research focuses primarily on the factors that influence pro-environmental behavior and the relationship between transportation and the environment. In addition, she is a faculty member in the Master of Science in Transportation Management Program at San José State University. She earned a B.A. from the University of Rochester and a PhD in Planning, Policy and Design from the University of California, Irvine.

Cameron Simons is a graduate of the Master of Science in Data Analytics program at San José State University. His research interests focus on the use of big data analysis in transportation and the intersection between transportation and housing.

December 2020
Public opinion
State taxation
State departments of transportation



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