According to the Future of Transportation National Survey (2010), more Americans favor a better public transportation system over building new roads or expanding existing road systems. The survey results were published on the Transportation for America website and show that 59 percent of survey respondents would prefer to see improvements in the public transportation system to ease traffic congestion. These improvements would include upgrades to train and bus systems, which will make walking and biking both easier and safer.
Of those surveyed, 38 percent said that more roads, including expanding existing road systems, is the best way to address the traffic congestion that many of the nation’s larger cities face. Although large metropolitan areas often have the most traffic congestion, the survey showed that the vast majority of Americans queried favor improved public transportation on a national level, whether or not they live in an urban or suburban setting.
Of the 800 registered voters surveyed, 35 percent lived in suburban areas, 25 percent lived in small towns, 23 percent classified their community as rural, and 16 percent lived in a big city. Overall, 82 percent of survey respondents agreed with the statement that “The United States would benefit from an expanded and improved public transportation system, such as rail and buses.”
After asking about an improved public transportation system on a national level, survey respondents were then asked about the benefits of improving local public transportation systems. As might be expected, those in rural settings weren’t as keen on the benefits of public transportation in their communities. However, 55 percent of respondents from rural areas did see possible benefits in improving rural public transportation options.
The lack of widespread and comprehensive public transportation has some Americans feeling trapped. If they want to go somewhere, they have to drive their car. Nearly three-fourths of survey respondents felt that they had no choice but to drive as much as they do while just over half would prefer to spend less time in their car.
In order to spend less time in their cars, the nation needs to expand its public transportation options. Unfortunately, those surveyed don’t think there is enough funding being made available to public transportation. When asked to guess how much of each federal transportation dollar is allocated towards public transportation, survey respondents were fairly accurate. Their mean guess was $0.19 and the actual amount is $0.17. However, those surveyed feel that $0.37 out of every federal transportation dollar should be spent on public transportation options.
According to those surveyed, an improved public transportation system will have benefits beyond reducing traffic congestion and improving the environment. Other perceived benefits include the creation of new jobs, people’s overall health and road safety.
For more information, visit the Transportation for America website.