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Americans Support An Adequately Funded National Transportation Policy-Survey

Parul Dubey on May 15, 2019 - in News, Transportation

HNTB survey shows Americans believe transportation is vital to our country’s economic prosperity; dedicated source of funding needed to pay for it.

Key findings include:
  • Almost eight in 10 Americans believe a national transportation policy is critically needed
  • Nearly three in four Americans believe a high-quality transportation system is vital for economic prosperity
  • Two in three respondents (66 percent) believe a reliable and consistent source of funding to pay for infrastructure investments is extremely or very important  
  • Fifty-five percent of respondents prefer tolls and other user fees rather than taxes (45 percent) as the means to fund infrastructure investments 

NEW YORK – Nearly eight in 10 Americans (78 percent) believe a national transportation policy that will improve the reliability, accessibility, mobility and safety of the nation’s transportation network is a policy imperative, according to a new HNTB Corporation national public opinion survey.  

The Imperative for a National Transportation Policy, the latest in HNTB’s America THINKS survey series, found almost three in four Americans (73 percent) believe a robust, high quality transportation system is vital to America’s continued economic prosperity and quality of life. Two in three respondents, 66 percent, consider a reliable and consistent source of funding dedicated to pay for infrastructure investments to be extremely or very important, according to HNTB. 

When asked to identify a preferred source of funding to maintain existing transportation infrastructure as well as fund new construction, a slight majority of those surveyed, 55 percent, identified tolls and user fees that are paid only by those who utilize tolled facilities as the favored source of funding. Taxes such as those for fuel and sales, and paid by everyone, were favored by 45 percent of respondents. 
“This data suggests the time is now for bipartisan solutions that effectively address and pay for critical transportation improvements, because the ability of our transportation network to move people and goods efficiently and effectively directly impacts our security, economic vitality and global competitiveness,” said John Barton, PE, HNTB’s transportation market sector leader and senior vice president. “The United States needs a long term, meaningful, and sustainable funding source for our transportation infrastructure. We must find a consensus on funding to maintain our way of life.” 

When asked to rank transportation investment priorities, 69 percent of respondents identified highways as the single most important investment, while bridges were cited by 44 percent of respondents. Public transportation was third at 38 percent, however the need to establish efficient multimodal connectivity between subway/transit systems and airports was cited as important by 84 percent of respondents.

“An efficient transportation network incorporates multiple modes of travel, seamlessly integrated and accessible to all,” Barton said. “Mass transit is a primary component of our transportation network, and our transit systems need increased investment to ensure their continued safety, resiliency, and reliability, and to support the modernization of critical transit infrastructure such as signal systems, tracks, rolling stock and stations.”
According to the HNTB survey, transitioning to more environmentally friendly transportation options such as electric vehicles, hybrid vehicles, more use of bicycles and walking, was seen as extremely or very important by 62 percent of all respondents, including two-thirds (67 percent) of millennials.

The importance of national transportation policy, views on traffic congestion and mobility preferences also were explored by the survey.

According to The Imperative for a National Transportation Policy, increasing traffic congestion continues to be a major concern among Americans. The survey found that almost nine in 10 respondents (89 percent) believe the roadways they regularly use are congested, and a majority (52 percent) believe the level of congestion has increased in the past year. Significantly, almost nine in 10 survey respondents (86 percent) believe congestion makes roadways more dangerous.

When asked how to best manage congestion, 40 percent of respondents felt that increasing the availability of public transportation into congested areas offered the best solution. Alternative transportation options such as ride hailing/sharing services, bicycles and scooters were favored by 30 percent of respondents. Implementation of public policies such as staggered starting work times and telecommuting was favored by 24 percent of respondents; and congestion pricing programs were favored by six percent. 

“While we can no longer simply build our way out of congestion, we do have ways to help manage it. For example, the increased use of mass transit removes vehicles from our roadways, helping to reduce congestion,” said Barton. “Other options include maximizing existing capacity with the use of priced managed lanes, congestion pricing programs and implementation of bus rapid transit systems among others.”

The survey also asked Americans about the mode of travel they prefer, and found more than six in ten respondents (63 percent) continue to prefer their personal cars for travel. In fact, the survey found that the preference for travel by personal car remains strong, and, extends across every age group including 55 percent of millennials, 64 percent of Gen Xers, 70 percent of baby boomers and 80 percent of seniors. In addition, the survey found that even among those living in urban environments where multiple mobility options are readily available, more than half (56 percent) still choose to use personal cars over other possibilities.

Correspondingly, preferences for other means of mobility found subway/commuter rail was favored by 11 percent of respondents, walking by 10 percent, bicycles 6 percent, busses by 5 percent, and rideshare/taxis by 3 percent.

“We must recognize the personal automobile continues to be the primary mobility choice for Americans,” said Barton. “This ongoing preference highlights the need for action by transportation policy makers to identify and implement effective congestion management solutions, and consistent and sustainable funding sources to maintain and build the highways and bridges on which these cars travel.” 

Motion graphics from the survey are available here

About the survey
HNTB’s America THINKS survey, The Imperative for a National Transportation Policy, polled a random nationwide sample of 1,014 Americans, ages 18 and older, between March 15 and March 18, 2019. It was conducted by Russell Research, which used an email invitation and online survey. Quotas were set to ensure reliable representation of the entire U.S. population ages 18 and over. The margin of error is +/- 3.1 percent.

About HNTB
HNTB Corporation is an employee-owned infrastructure firm serving public and private owners and contractors. Celebrating 105 years of service in the United States, HNTB understands the life cycle of infrastructure and addresses clients’ most complex technical, financial and operational challenges. Professionals nationwide deliver a full range of infrastructure-related services, including award-winning planning, design, and program and construction management. For more information, visit www.hntb.com, or follow HNTB on LinkedInTwitterFacebook or Instagram.

NOTE: Age group delineations based on U.S. Census Bureau standards
Millennials: 18-36
Generation X: 37-53
Baby Boomers: 54-72
Seniors: 73+
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