Sifting through the results of a NRDC and Transportation for America national poll taken just a few weeks ago, several things jumped out at me.
First, voters value freedom, namely the freedom to drive only when they want to do so, not because they simply have no choice.
Second, fellow Americans clearly have a strong desire to escape from traffic congestion by exercising other options, for example riding a train or a bus. But availability is the main barrier to use so we need to invest in these options; options which also create good jobs in local communities.
There was also interest in freedom from oil, which can only be achieved by addressing transportation since it accounts for 70 percent of the nation’s demand for oil. This is good news for our new Mobility Choice initiative, which includes a former CIA Chief, a former National Security Adviser, a Vice Admiral, a former state EPA secretary and other energy security and transportation experts. We’re committed to making fuel-efficient transportation choices more competitive, to boost energy independence.
Investment in a variety of mobility options, including more public transportation, is a means to this end. And thankfully a strong majority of voters indicated that current funding levels for public transportation are insufficient, with 58 percent saying more should be allocated toward bus, rail and other services. The desire to increase the amount of funding allocated to options beyond roads and highways was shared across demographic, geographic and political lines, including:
- 67% of residents in the Northeast, 58% in the West, 57% in the Midwest, and 52% in the South
- 62% of urban areas, 59% of suburbanites, 60% in small towns and 50% in rural areas
- 66% of Democrats, 59% of Independents, and 49% of Republicans
Wired has already written about it, and other reporters are picking up on it too. And for anyone interested in this fascinating snapshot of public opinion, a presentation is available here.