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New Poll: Americans Feel Trapped in Their Cars

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LonelyAmericans would like to have more public transit options and don’t know just how skewed our transportation spending is towards new roads, according to a new Natural Resources Defense Council poll:

  • 55 percent prefer to drive less, but 74 percent say they have no choice 
  • 63 percent (more than three in five Americans) would rather address traffic by improving public transportation (42 percent) or developing communities where people do not have to drive as much (21 percent) – as opposed to building new roads, an approach preferred by only one in five Americans (20 percent) 
  • Americans over-estimate what their state spends on public transportation, estimating that it is an average of 16 percent of their state’s transportation budget – and still they would like that amount nearly doubled, calling for their state to spend an average of 28 percent on public transportation (note: The average percentage of transportation money – state plus federal – spent on transit over the past three years was 6.55 percent per state) 

Opponents of smart growth like to claim America is sprawling & car-dependent because people have sat down, carefully considered the options, and decided to move to a place far from work & friends so they can waste tons of money & countless hours stuck in traffic. But there are two realities here: People don’t have all day to crunch the numbers on this stuff; and the amount of transit and by extension the amount of housing near transit is limited (and in some cases it’s deliberately limited). So people often just figure out where they’d LIKE to live, then keep looking further & further away from that spot until they can find someplace that’s affordable.

This poll suggests many Americans would like to live somewhere that’s affordable AND has transit options, and they don’t realize just how much of their tax money is going instead to subsidize The Next Phenomenally Expensive Paving Project That Will Surely Solve All Our Transportation Problems.

  • Elaine in Roanoke

    With all the hassles of flying today, not to mention the ever-increasing cost, I simply dream of a day when high-speed passenger trains connect the nation’s large metropolitan areas. Today’s Amtrak system is wonderful to have, but it is antiquated compared to the rest of the industrialized world. Plus, the GOPers are always trying to destroy Amtrak.

  • Jef

    I think we need an “all of the above” approach to transportation options. We’ve been sort of monomaniacally focused on automobile infrastructure for the last 50 years or more, which isn’t going to suffice as our cities get more crowded. Expanded bus service, more bike lanes, street cars, etc, it should all be part of the mix.

    We should also be trying to use our existing infrastructure more efficiently. That means ridesharing and carpooling, which is easier than ever thanks to new services (http://us.amovens.com/en) that let you find or create a carpool in real time, from your laptop or your smartphone.