• Apr 5th 2010 at 12:00PM
  • 12

Looks like Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is on to something. He announced a major policy revision last week that will see his department "treat[ing] cyclists and walkers with policies similar to automobiles." Transportation for America (T4A) has issued the results of a survey that show that the majority of Americans agree with the idea of expanding transportation options to include better public transportation and easier bike and walking options.

How many people believe this? When it comes to what the federal government should be spending on public transportation, T4A found that most 59 percent "of the electorate cite some amount that is greater than what the federal government currently spends." The feds currently spend 17 cents of each transportation dollar on public transportation, compared to 80 cents on highways. 82 percent of voters responded that, "the United States would benefit from an expanded and improved transportation system," including modes of transportation like rail and buses. This makes sense, since 73 percent said they currently have "no choice" but to drive. Find all the details about the survey here.

Autopia notes that, even though T4A is an advocacy group, the survey was conducted with help from two polling firms, one with ties to the Democrats and the other with Republican ties, to minimize political bias. Maybe transportation options shouldn't be considered a political issue. A free country, after all, should be free to get around in a lot of ways.

[Source: Transportation for America via Autopia]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Months Ago
      So the survey was written so that if you didn't think they necessarily needed to increase spending on public transportation, the only other way to answer was that you were for building more roads? And vice-versa?

      That sounds like a survey designed to end up with the results you want.
      • 8 Months Ago
      I thought it was pretty well established that, in the long run, expanding roads increases traffic.
      • 8 Months Ago
      There is room for improvement in everything. Don't put too much emphasis on that loaded question! West of the Eastern seaboard, except for the very urban areas, people will be extremely slow to embrace public transportation in the US.
        • 8 Months Ago
        And yet the vast majority of people the US live in urban/suburban areas. The rail system in europe makes getting around without a vehicle very easy and fast. Trains pull into the center of towns, no need to drive out to the airport. Electric trains travel at high speeds. No need to arrive hours before departure. Seats are roomy and comfortable, markets next to the train station sell real food at reasonable rates.

        75 years ago there was a train that went from chicago to miniapolis in 5 hours(with 8 stops at cities in between). The train had an average speed of 68mph, and could hit top speeds of 108 mph.
        Today that taking that trip in a car will take you 7.5 hours on the interstate.

        An efficient rail system in the US would benefit people in rural areas because they would be much more likely to have access to this high speed transportation than they currently have to air travel. Trains can make quick 5 minute stops in small cities that major airlines would never bother with.
        • 8 Months Ago
        A cool rail system would be fun, especially since the airlines have gotten to be such a pain in the rear because of homeland securities ineptness. People in the west are very attached to their cars, and much of the country wouldn't be feasible for public transportation. I am sure it is the government's long term intention to get everybody out of their cars and on to public trans, it makes them easier to control.
      • 8 Months Ago
      The problem with public transit is that it requires too much waiting, and is slow. If there are lots of stops, transit is very slow, but if there are few stops it becomes inconvenient for those who need to go to a site between widely spaced stops. Also, it isn't available for those who work late as the bus or rail shuts down too soon.

      There is a better public transit option, with little or no waiting, going directly to desired destination and bypassing all other stops, and operates 24/7. Even better, it costs less to install and can cover more locations than other transit options. It is called "Personal Rapid Transit" or PRT. See:
        • 8 Months Ago
        Never been to Germany, sounds interesting.

        There are only 3 places in the U.S. where public transit is usually faster than private vehicles - New York and San Francisco, which are crowded with narrow streets and very good public transit, and Morgantown West Virginia which has the only working PRT system in the US.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Wether public or personal transport is more convenient depends entirely on the environment and the way public transit is implemented.

        If executed well, public transport will almost always be faster in urban areas, especially highly congested city centers, than personal transport.
        For instance, I highly prefer to take the bus + tram into the city of Cologne. Whereever I need to go, there's usually a station within five minutes of walking distance, unlike parking spots which usually end up much farther away. And they usually cost twice what I would've paid for a public transport ticket.
        And of course, I can enjoy a beer at any time without worries. Important here in Germany!
      • 8 Months Ago
      In any case, it is good to see people ready to embrace more public transportation....
      • 8 Months Ago
      Who was surveyed? did it include rural residents? did it include city folk, people in NYC and Chicago for example?
        • 8 Months Ago
        The answer to your question:


        Of course, the details of the survey are linked above, and you would have known that if you had just read it.

        Also, it's worth noting that America's population is heavily weighted in cities, having stopped being largely agrarian about 60 years ago.

        It's also interesting that a large percentage of those polled would actually *prefer* to take public transit, but can't because it's just not available in their community. Only 8% would actually prefer to drive to work.
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