Transit group: Large majorities support public transportation

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“A strong 75 percent of respondents support using tax dollars to expand and improve public transportation and 73 percent say a strong public transit system leads to economic growth in their communities,” the association continued.

APTA Michael Melaniphy said the poll results lined up with returns from referendums on transit funding during elections last year.

“Last year, Americans nationwide approved 49 of 62 – or 79 percent – of public transit initiatives,” Melaniphy said. “That represents our best showing at the ballot box since APTA and the Center for Transportation Excellence began tracking these ballot measures in the year 2000.”

Melaniphy said the combination of the poll results and the election returns are enough to give APTA a “mandate” to fight for more public transportation funding.

“Our mandate is clear ... keep fighting for those public transit dollars that have proven to be an engine for growth and a lifeline to mobility,” he said.

Melaniphy admitted that it will likely be difficult to win additional transit funding when much of the budget conversations in Washington are focused now on deficit reduction.

“In the new year, this will indeed be a challenge,” he said, even as he argued that public transit will have a good case to make to lawmakers. 

“As Congress and the White House seek ways to reduce federal spending and lower the deficit, every sector will need to prove its return on investment,” Melaniphy said. “2013 is the time we’ll redouble our efforts to educate more people, win new allies, and demonstrate public transportation’s essential role in a national recovery.”

The full APTA “State of Public Transportation” can be read here.