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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Study: Metro Atlantans want transit expansion... and 90 percent of 'em drive to work alone

Traffic, metro Atlanta, congestion, transit

A new study by the Transit Planning Board shows metro Atlanta voters strongly support transit solutions rather than business as usual when it comes to people moving. In a telephone poll of 4,123 registered voters in 11 metro counties, an overwhelming majority of respondents say that while roads must be maintained and improved, regions need to invest in transit expansion and options for pedestrians.

The numbers from the report:

Increased investment in public transportation would strengthen metro Atlanta’s economy, create jobs, reduce traffic congestion, air pollution and fuel consumption (85% agree, 12% disagree).

Metro Atlanta needs to continue funding road construction, but also needs to spend additional money on new public transportation options (80% agree, 17% disagree).

My community needs more sidewalks and bike lanes (77% agree, 21% disagree).

My community needs more transportation options like commuter rail service, light rail, buses and trolleys (74% agree, 23% disagree).

In contrast, less than half of voters agree with the statement: Metro Atlanta can solve its transportation problems by building new and wider roads, without including new public transportation options (40% agree, 56% disagree).

The study also shows that a regional sales tax that offered a glimmer of hope to the metro Atlanta's crippling congestion woes may have found strong support had it survived. Of those polled, 58 percent say they would have supported a funding strategy similar to the one that has helped cities such as Charlotte build a light-rail project. The study says voters of all demographics appear open to allow MARTA act as the implementer of those funds.

Perhaps most eye-opening is that 90 percent of those polled say they drive to work alone, with many commuting from neighboring counties into Fulton. Worrisome is that significant numbers of voters say they prefer driving to work. Of those asked who work full time, 31 percent say congestion is a "very serious" problem in metro Atlanta.

Public transit earned applause as well — 81 percent of respondents say they were satisfied with experiences on the service during the last year.

To view PDFs of the poll surveys, click here for DeKalb, here for Fulton, here for City of Atlanta, and here for Clayton.

The board, a coalition of the Georgia Department of Transportation, Atlanta Regional Commission, Georgia Regional Transit Authority, MARTA and other agencies, commissioned the study, which was funded by several community improvement districts throughout the region. To view the board's vision of a more mobile metro region, click here.

(Photo by Jim Stawniak)

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