A three-county poll released today finds most Triangle voters willing to pay higher taxes to beef up public transportation service in the region – even though most residents don’t ride buses now and don’t expect to ride buses and trains in the future.
Out of 901 Wake, Durham and Orange county registered voters surveyed by phone in early March, 58 percent said they would vote for a proposed half-cent increase in the local sales tax to pay for a network of rail transit and more buses. And 39 percent said they would vote against the tax hike.
- Only 9 percent use public transportation frequently or very frequently, and 69 percent do not use it at all. The share of transit users grows to 23 percent among those aged 18 to 29.
- 32 percent say they would use an expanded bus system frequently or very frequently, and 43 percent say they would use a train system.
- Travel between Wake, Durham and Orange counties should be the highest priority (29 percent) for an improved transit system. Travel to Research Triangle Park followed at 27 percent, then travel to the airport (14 percent) and travel within the county where you live (14 percent).
- Improving public education should be the top priority for local elected officials, according to 32 percent of respondents, followed by attracting more jobs and businesses (30 percent). Expanding public transportation systems is favored by 7 percent.
The survey was conducted by Fallon Research, based on Columbus, Ohio, for the Regional Transportation Alliance, a nonprofit Triangle business advocacy group. Fallon cited a margin of error of 3.26 percentage points.
Triangle elected officials are developing long-range plans for an improved transit system (see this week's Road Worrier column). In 2011 or 2012 they are expected to call a local referendum on whether to levy a half-cent sales tax to help pay for transit.