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Transit boosters' poll boosts transit and sales tax

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A new poll conducted by a pro-transit business group finds that Triangle residents are pro-transit.

The Regional Transportation Alliance, a transportation advocacy business group, says the poll shows support for transit improvements and for a proposed half cent local tax to pay for them. The group also favors the sales tax funding approach.

The poll found that 49.1 percent favored legislation, now moving through the House, that would give Triangle voters the power to approve the transit sales tax, and 42.1 percent opposed it. Asked whether they would vote to tax themselves if the half-penny tax was placed on a local referendum ballot, a larger share said yes — 52.8 percent, with 43.7 percent opposed.

The numbers for Wake County alone were less favorable on the transit sales tax. The enabling legislation was opposed by 47.8 percent to 46.2 percent of the Wake voters surveyed, while the local sales tax vote itself was supported by 50.5 percent to 46.7 percent.

Fallon Research conducted the live interview poll of 1,006 registered voters in Wake, Durham and Orange counties. The poll claims a margin of error of plus or minus 3.08%. A statistical breakdown shows that 69.3% of respondents are white, 60.5% are employed outside the home and 40.2% live in Wake County.

That means Wake is underrepresented in the Triangle total, because 69% of the residents of the three counties live in Wake. RTA also published separate results for each of the three counties.

Here are some of the answers to some of the poll questions (questions are paraphrased here):

* Do you favor legislation to allow Durham, Orange and Wake counties to ask voters for approval to levy a one-half percent sales tax for public transportation?
Favor 49.1%. Oppose 42.1%

* Which routes should be highest priority for new or improved transit system? Traveling ...
... To and from Research Triangle Park 28.1%
... Between Durham, Wake and Orange counties 26.3%
... Within the county where you live 14.1%
... To and from Raleigh Durham Airport 13.1%
... To and from downtown Raleigh 10.8%

* Do you favor a combined system of light rail trains for major destinations and connector buses to individual neighborhoods?
Favor 74.9%. Oppose 20.7%

* To pay for new or expanded public transportation, would you vote for ...
... A property tax increase that, for each $100,000 of property value, would amount to $38 in Durham County, $23 in Orange County and $27 in Wake County? For 39.2%. Against 56.9 %
... A 30-year bond issue of $300 million for Durham County, $100 million for Orange County, $600 million for Wake County? For 49.8%. Against 38.7%.
... A one-quarter percent sales tax? For 57.9%. Against 38.1%.
... A one-half percent sales tax? For 52.8%. Against 43.7%.

* If you oppose the sales tax, what’s your biggest reason for opposing it?
Oppose increased taxes 47.1%
Timing poor due to economic crisis 13.3%
I won’t use transit and non-riders should not have to pay the tax 11%

* Agree or disagree: Could not vote for more transit funding unless ...
... There also is an increase in rider fees so people using transit do more to defray costs. Agree 52.7%. Disagree 39.7%
... There also is an increase in housing and development fees so new growth helps defray costs. Agree 52.4%. Disagree 39.9%

* Do you agree that no transit tax money collected in one county should be allowed to be spent in nearby counties?
Agree 42.2%. Disagree 52.4%

* A new or expanded public transportation system in the Triangle area should be planned and managed ...
... On a regional basis 63.2%
... By each individual county 32.8%

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About the blogger

Bruce Siceloff reports on traffic and transportation. A News & Observer reporter, editor and blogger since 1976, he took over the Road Worrier column in 2003. Lately he drives I-40 with the cruise control set at 68 mph. You can e-mail Bruce, call him at 919-829-4527, check out his Crosstown Traffic blog or follow him (@Road_Worrier) on Twitter.