Americans Want More Public Transit Options, Not More Highways, Study Finds

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A bipartisan poll of 800 Americans shows that most want more transportation options, think their community would benefit from improved public transport, and support local investment in public transit. Who wants to spend hours alone in their car, burning expensive, dirty gasoline? Fewer and fewer of us.

Americans sound like they are ready and willing to support public transport, according to these stats:

  • 59 percent of Americans feel the transportation system is “outdated, unreliable and inefficient.”
  • 63 percent think traffic should be addressed by improving public transit.
  • 68 percent support local investment in public transport improvements, including 39 percent supporting it “strongly.”
  • 64 percent say their community would benefit from an expanded and improved public transportation system, such as rail and buses.

And they when compared to driving and roadbuilding options, citizens clearly favor transit:

  • 59 percent would like more transportation options so they have the freedom to travel other than by driving.
  • 63 percent (more than three in five Americans) would rather address traffic by improving public transportation (42 percent) or developing communities where people do not have to drive as much (21 percent) – as opposed to building new roads, an approach preferred by only one in five Americans (20 percent).
  • 67 percent favor setting new standards for local planning that guide new development into existing cities and or near public transportation.

The poll was conducted via telephone and with focus groups in Charlotte, Raleigh, Philadelphia, and Cleveland.

Source: NRDC
Image: Alan49 via Shutterstock

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11 thoughts on “Americans Want More Public Transit Options, Not More Highways, Study Finds

  • The best of all worlds? Electric robot taxi, at least for last mile. And it’s only 5-10y away.

    • Absolutely.

    • that’s basically the worst definition of public transit i’ve ever heard.
      how about this idea: jam millions of people into a relatively small geographic space and give them each large vehicles to move around in. it’s a joke. a sad joke, but a joke.

      you can’t stuff a brick through the eye of a needle.

      • You might have pulled the trigger before clearing leather on that one.
        Think for a minute. The desire for private transportation within cities is not going away. Right now that function is provided by private cars and taxis.

        Think about robotic taxis which could linger out of sight on less used side streets, then spring into action when someone wanted a ride from a specific spot to a specific spot on their time schedule. Self-driving ‘Zip cars’ always parked in front of where you are and able to be dropped off where you are going.

        People with big loads, sick children, disabilities,tight schedules, the need for some privacy, etc. traveling to less served locations aren’t well served by subways and buses.

        • i’m not saying no cars at all, but the idea of *everyone* driving around a city in a personal vehicle is absurd. and, currently, simply at the rate we do it today, it costs us billions and billions of dollars in lost time and similarly in health costs. (not to mention GW and oil wars, since that is simply dependent on the fuel source.)

          • I think you overlooked “the last mile”.

          • depends. most bus stops aren’t a mile away. for those that are, a bicycle is very useful. if one wants to drive the last mile, that’s not a huge deal, but most residents driving a huge vehicle around a dense city all the time is what i was referring to. those places don’t make the ‘best cities to live in’ list.

          • I suspect you suffer from the ‘young healthy guy with no kids’ syndrome.
            Try loading your elderly mother on the back of your bike and peddling her to the doctor’s office with your bad knee. In the rain. Strap on your two-year-old who can’t be left alone at home.

            No one is advocating driving around in a huge vehicle as far as I can see. A compact, self-driven, electricity-powered option makes very big sense to me.

            Think something the size of a SmartCar with all seats available for passengers, easy to get in and out of, good luggage/cargo space. Enter start location and time, enter destination, get back an ETA for the ride to show up at the curb with updates if problems arise. “Ding. Ding. We’re 30 seconds away.”

            Even for those who just don’t want to ride with ‘you people’ might be more willing to leave their car at home or outside the difficult-to-park-in city if there was the option of a self-driven taxi. Just arrange for it to meet you where you want, get out where you want, no dealing with driving in city traffic, no need to park.

            There could be options such as 1/2 person models, 3/4 person models, “bring home a mattress” models….

            Those rare times that I use a taxi – often when I’ve got to haul more than is convenient on the bus/subway – I’d like to avoid dealing with taxi drivers. A self-driving taxi that wasn’t in a bad mood would be sweet.

          • -Carsharing.
            -Rental cars.
            -Using a car for special needs.
            -Yes, using a taxi for special purposes.

            -But this post was specifically about a poll regarding transit vs road projects. The US is far overdone on road projects compared to transit projects. We have promoted driving far too much compared to promoting efficient transportation options that work best most of the time in dense cities (where most people live). As a result, we waste billions or trillions of dollars a year and billions of hours a year sitting in traffic unproductively.

          • “-Carsharing.
            -Rental cars.
            -Using a car for special needs.
            -Yes, using a taxi for special purposes. ”

            Driver-less EVs fill all these needs. Being public transportation they make it easier to keep EVs on the road, it’s not your individual EV that needs to stop for a charge.

            Being driver-less/short time ‘rentals’ they eliminate the parking problems of carsharing and rental cars. You wouldn’t have to travel to where they are in order to use them, they would come to you. And the closest to you would come to you. The closest with ample battery charge.

            Just think of the benefit to people who live in the “wrong part of town” or who have the “wrong skin color” and find it pretty much impossible to get a taxi to pick them up.

            I fully agree that we need more and better public transportation. Give people comfortable, efficient, affordable public transportation and they will drive less. But we also have to realize that there will be people who, for a variety of reasons, will choose to ride in a “private” car. People in “nice suits” who want to conduct business as they move around town do not ride the bus or bike.

            We kill the fossil fuel monster by giving people acceptable, affordable alternatives to burning fossil fuel. A private, no driver, vehicle that meets you at your door and takes you to the door you want to travel to is likely to be a big winner.

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