Majority of Americans want tax dollars used for public transportation

(Photo: runnx / Flickr)(Photo: runnx / Flickr)

Americans want to see increased funding for public transportation, according to survey data released this month from the American Public Transportation Association and the Mineta Transportation Institute.

The results showed that 73.6 percent of respondents strongly supported use of taxes “for creating, expanding, and improving public transportation.” A year ago, 69 percent of respondents agreed.

However, 24.6 percent of respondents said they did not want their tax dollars used for public transportation. That number is down from 25.4 percent in 2012.

While 66.1 percent said Congress should increase spending for public transportation (up from 61.1 percent in 2012), 24.4 percent want lawmakers to decrease public transportation spending (down from 26.9 percent).

President Obama’s most recent budget proposal, released in April, called for public transportation funding, including $9 billion for critical transit infrastructure improvements, $2 billion for current passenger rail services, $3 billion for the rail service improvement program.

When asked whether transportation projects create jobs, 78.3 percent of respondents agreed (up just 0.2 percent from the 78.1 percent who agreed in 2012), while 18.4 percent disagreed (up 2.2 percent from the 16.6 percent who disagreed last year).

The majority of respondents said public transportation “expands access to job and career opportunities, as well as to medical facilities and schools and colleges.” The number of respondents who agreed increased this year to 87.8 percent compared to 83.4 percent in 2012, while the number of respondents who disagreed decreased by almost half from 10.9 percent in 2012 to 5.5 this year.

While the number of respondents who said public transportation positions America to be more economically energy efficient by reducing dependence on foreign oil increased from 70.8 percent in 2012 to 72.4 percent this year, the number of respondents who disagreed inched up from 21.1 percent in 2012 to 21.9 percent this year.

With public transportation and other alternative forms of transportation gaining popularity, the funding continues to be a concern. While the gas tax has remained stagnant since 1993 and MAP-21 is set to expire in 2014, ideas such as oil and gas drilling expansions, tolls, online sales taxes, an increased per-gallon gas tax, the addition of a wholesale gas tax, increased sales taxes and more have been discussed as funding options as reauthorization approaches.