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Bombshell Post Poll Shows 2-1 Majority for Transit Over Roads

The public overwhelmingly favors a massive reversal of current transportation priorities, today's Washington Post transportation poll shows. 62% of Metro area residents said that efforts to reduce traffic congestion should focus on trains, buses, and other public transportation. Only 30% said the focus should be on building and expanding roads.

The priority that area residents favor by a majority of more than two to one differs drastically from current spending patterns. The cost of highway expansions now being built in the area, including the Intercounty Connector, the Virginia Beltway toll lanes, Montrose Parkway, and numerous lesser road widenings, dwarfs investments in transit. The only major transit project currently under construction is the Metro Silver Line to Tysons Corner and Dulles Airport.

Further evidence of public support for transit came from the Post's question about the current Metro budget crisis. By a majority of 52% to 40%, residents said that Metro should get new funding sources -- even if it meant raising taxes -- rather than cut service. The poll did not ask about raising taxes to pay for new roads, but voters in recent years have strongly resisted new taxes to pay for highways.

The poll also showed continuing high levels of public satisfaction with Metro, despite the system's recent spate of accidents and maintenance-related slowdowns. 80% of regular Metrorail riders, and 70% of the public as a whole, rated the system as good or excellent. The most commonly cited major reason for not using Metrorail was that jobs are located too far from stations. Metrobus and county bus services also got high approval levels from riders, but non-riders gave the bus systems much lower ratings.

"This poll demonstrates once again that the public is way ahead of our political leaders", commented Action Committee for Transit president Ben Ross. "A massive shift in spending from roads to transit is long overdue."

The Post poll covered residents of Loudoun, Fairfax, Montgomery, and Prince George's counties as well as the District of Columbia and inner Virginia suburbs.