Poll: More than half of voters support mass transit

Posted March 25, 2009 12:20 a.m. EDT
Updated March 25, 2009 10:05 a.m. EDT

— More than half of voters recently surveyed said they are in support of mass transit in the Triangle, according to a poll released Wednesday by the Regional Transportation Alliance.

More than 60 percent of 1,006 registered voters in Durham, Orange and Wake counties said they support light rail, buses or a combination of the two, along with dedicated lanes for circulators in downtown areas.

The transportation alliance, which focuses on ways to relieve traffic congestion in an effort to promote strong business in the area, reported more than 50 percent of the participants said they would vote for a half-cent local option sales tax to improve public transportation in the Triangle.

"Triangle voters support all modes of transit, and they would be far more likely to vote for sales taxes than additional property taxes to expand transit options for our rapidly growing region, said Joe Milazzo, the alliance's executive director.

Participants also identified travel to Research Triangle Park as their highest priority.

A regional transit plan, which could be in place by 2035, is under consideration by local leaders and includes an enhanced bus network throughout the Triangle. Part of that is express service to and from Raleigh-Durham International Airport and rush-hour-only bus service to outlying communities.

Another recommendation is "circulators" – initially buses and possibly later on streetcars or trolleys – in downtown areas with a system of park-and-ride lots.

Rail service from Chapel Hill to north Raleigh utilizing diesel rail cars and Light Rail Transit would provide transportation alternatives in some of the most congested corridors of the Triangle.

Fifty percent of funding for a regional system would come from local governments and 25 percent each from the state and federal governments. The local portion would come from a proposed half-cent sales tax increase and a $10 increase in vehicle registration fees.

The poll, conducted March 7 to 11 by Fallon Research, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.08 percentage points.