What Do Americans Think about Public Transit? A Review of U.S. Public Opinion Polling Survey Questions

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What Do Americans Think about Public Transit? A Review of U.S. Public Opinion Polling Survey Questions


This “seed grant” research project compiled a set of 56 US public opinion polls that asked respondents their opinions about public transit. The first and primary goal of the project was to assemble a large set of transit-related survey questions that can be used to inspire the design of future surveys on the topic of public transit. The report presents the specific wording of every relevant question identified.

A second objective of the project was to identify general patterns in public opinion about transit that emerge across multiple surveys. Reviewing the entire set of polling questions related to public transit revealed that the surveys commonly address the following themes: the reasons people support public transit; opinions about transit service quality; the extent to which people support improving transit as a general concept; and support levels for raising additional revenues to support transit. The analysis of the poll questions on these topics shows that strong majorities of people believe that transit brings a number of specific benefits to their community, especially congestion relief and accessibility to vulnerable residents. Strong majorities also support improvements to transit as a general concept. However, fewer people support the general concept of increased spending on transit, and considerably fewer than half support raising any specific tax to increase transit funding, except for sales taxes, which usually enjoy majority support.



Dr. Agrawal is the Director of the MTI National Transportation Finance Center and a Professor of Urban and Regional Planning at San José State University. Her research and teaching interests in transportation policy and planning include transportation finance, pedestrian planning, and urban street design. She also works in the area of planning and transportation history. She has a B.A. from Harvard University in Folklore and Mythology, an M.Sc. from the London School of Economics and Political Science in Urban and Regional Planning, and a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, in City and Regional Planning. For a complete listing of her publications, see http://www.sjsu.edu/ faculty/weinstein.agrawal/.

July 2015
Public transit
Public opinion
Market surveys



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