Clean Transport Train station in London on a stormy day.

Published on June 6th, 2013 | by Joshua S Hill


73% Of Americans Favour Investing In Public Transport With Their Tax Dollars

June 6th, 2013 by  

The Mineta Transportation Institute released a survey on Monday at the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) Annual Rail Conference that shows growing support for the expansion of the US public transportation system.

Train station in London on a stormy day.

Train Station In London.
Image Credit: Giideon via Shutterstock.

The survey, entitled Americans Support for Public Transportation, shows that nearly 74% of survey respondents agree that their tax dollars could and should be used to create, expand, and improve public transportation in their community.

This number is up from an already growing majority in 2012 of 69%.

“We are experiencing this surge in support because citizens can see, touch, and feel the economic impact of investing in public transportation,” said APTA Chair Flora Castillo. “This survey emphasizes that public transit plays a great role in society because it directly touches people’s lives.”

“We look forward to sharing these great results with Congress,” said APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy.  “In most political circles, receiving nearly 74 percent in favor of increased investment would be considered a landslide.”

Even stronger support was found in the survey for public transportation’s role in jobs and careers. A strong 80% of respondents agreed with the statement that public transportation investment can help create jobs and help grow a stronger economy. However, an even greater 88% agreed that public transportation expands opportunities and provides access to new jobs and careers, not to mention medical care, schools, and other education.

Respondents also believe that Congress should be spending more on public transportation, with 66% saying that Congress should increase spending, a 5% increase on last year’s responses.

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  • Guest

    I wonder just for the sake of discussion, is the public in favor of their own romantic vision of what public transportation would be or in favor of the reality? There have been a number of studies that seem to indicate that public transportation has a dark side cost/benefit related. I think of the black billowing smoke I’m breathing from the city buses and the noise! I think of the countless times I’ve observed the city bus running its route with 3 people on board. I’m not so sure that public transit gains any efficiency. Amtrak also comes to mind… There are not many positives that I can associate with Amtrak. As long as public transit shares the track with freight I can’t see it working. I’ve personally sat on the tracks waiting for several hours for the track to free up so we could get underway. And to build a separate track for transit seems to be cost prohibitive. With the citizens being out of work and the government wracking up record debt, can we afford such luxury? I’m in favor of efficiency, I’m in favor of saving the planet but I’m not convinced that adding more public transit is going help anything long term.

    • Bob_Wallace

      I’ve ridden public transportation in many countries and can report that for the most part US public transportation is often sub-standard.

      Other countries have trains that get one places rapidly. European high speed rail is wonderful (haven’t ridden Asia’s). In many cities buses run frequently and the drivers are pleasant.

      The largest complaint I have about public transportation in other countries is that during commute hours they can be overused. Crowded. Because they work so well.

      People are out of work? The economy sluggish? Sounds like we need to be doing what works and put people to work.

      We are no longer wracking up huge federal debt. As we pull our troops out of Afghanistan and as the health care bill starts to cut into government spending on health care we’ll be in even better shape.

      Put a bunch of Americans to work and build us a 21st Century transportation system.

    • BethRFinch

      In the survey, it notes that the strongest supporters of transit funding were those who had taken transit themselves recently. Where I live, the economy is picking up, and it’s evidenced by the increased congestion on the highways. Now people are complaining about how long it’s taking them to get to work. The US built its mid-century economy around the automobile. Now our highways are built out and we’re choking ourselves with traffic. If more of us don’t start using transit, which removes cars from the road, traffic and pollution will continue to worsen.

      If smoke is billowing from a bus, it isn’t being maintained. That should not happen. But if it makes you feel better, bio-diesel is being tested now, and it’s proving much cleaner than regular diesel or other fuels. In addition, electric generating and storage systems are also being developed so buses can likely run on lithium ion batteries that can run longer on a single charge, and they can be refurbished rather than being tossed away.

      Bob, you are correct that it’s different in other countries. Thanks to skilled advertisers, Americans believe that having a car is a sign of wealth and taking transit is evidence of poverty. In Europe, taking transit (or even walking) are accepted as a normal part of mobility — no matter what your income.

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