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Poll: 70 percent of US residents support transit funding increase

Poll: 70 percent of US residents support transit funding increase
© Greg Nash

Seventy percent of U.S. residents would support an increase in federal funding for public transportation systems, according to a new poll released on Monday. 

The poll, conducted by ORC International for the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), shows support for "increased funding for public transit is consistent across communities of all sizes," according to the groups.

The findings come as lawmakers are debating a new transportation funding bill with federal road and transit spending currently set to expire on Dec. 4

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Transit supporters said the findings should spur lawmakers to increase spending on public transportation projects in the forthcoming infrastructure bill. 

"No matter where you live and work — and what age you are, public transit provides vital access to jobs and everything a community has to offer," said APTA President Michael Melaniphy. "As Congress finalizes its work on the surface transportation bill, we must ensure we provide for both large and smaller communities through growth of the federal transit program."

Federal transportation funding is typically split between road and transit projects on an 80 percent to 20 percent basis. The money is stored in a separate Mass Transit Account within the Department of Transportation's Highway Trust Fund, created during the Reagan administration.

Lawmakers have debated a proposal to eliminate funding for transit projects from "high-density" states in the northeast during the highway bill talks. Supporters say the money can be redirected to pay for more fair national bus funding program.

The APTA said Monday that its polling showed widespread support for all types of transit funding. The group said "owning or having access to a private vehicle does not diminish public transit support across the nation, with 71 percent of car owners reporting that they want to see more federal investment in public transportation in both large and small communities."

"In addition, a majority (56%) of respondents said public transit is important in attracting and retaining employers in their community," the group added.