What Do Americans Think about Public Transit? A Review of U.S. Public Opinion Polling Survey Questions

Document Type


Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, planning - surveys


Public transit, Public opinion, Market surveys


This “seed grant” research project compiled a set of 56 US public opinion polls that asked respondents their opinions about public transit. The first and primary goal of the project was to assemble a large set of transit-related survey questions that can be used to inspire the design of future surveys on the topic of public transit. The report presents the specific wording of every relevant question identified. A second objective of the project was to identify general patterns in public opinion about transit that emerge across multiple surveys. Reviewing the entire set of polling questions related to public transit revealed that the surveys commonly address the following themes: the reasons people support public transit; opinions about transit service quality; the extent to which people support improving transit as a general concept; and support levels for raising additional revenues to support transit. The analysis of the poll questions on these topics shows that strong majorities of people believe that transit brings a number of specific benefits to their community, especially congestion relief and accessibility to vulnerable residents. Strong majorities also support improvements to transit as a general concept. However, fewer people support the general concept of increased spending on transit, and considerably fewer than half support raising any specific tax to increase transit funding, except for sales taxes, which usually enjoy majority support.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Mineta Transportation Institute, copyright remains with them.