A survey of residents in the greater Washington, D.C. region demonstrates what most of us already knew – Washingtonians utilize a lot of public transportation and would like to see AND pay for better services. The survey, conducted in May by WBA Research, a Crofton Maryland based firm, looked into public transportation use and support, views on road maintenance, use of new transportation oriented apps and airport usage. This article will explore the finding of public transportation use; subsequent articles will address other findings in the report.
In summary the survey found that:
Three-fourths (75%) of all Washington, DC area residents have either used public transportation in the past month (47%) or are likely to consider doing so in the future (28%).
Satisfaction with the region’s transportation system shows room for improvement. Only 29% of area residents are satisfied (rated 8-10 on a 0-10 scale), while 52% gave more neutral ratings.
Support for increased government funding of public transportation is high—78% of Washington, DC area residents say they would be very or somewhat likely to support an increase. Support is most pronounced among District of Columbia residents (58% very likely to support vs. 28%-38% of suburban residents). And, while it might not be surprising that transit users are more likely than non-users to be very likely to support increased public transportation funding (50% vs. 24%), even the majority of non-users (72%) would at least be somewhat likely to support an increase.
Maintaining existing roads and bridges (82% rated 8-10), as well as reducing traffic congestion by improving public transportation (73% rated 8-10), are rated as the most important types of projects in which the region could invest.
These findings are notable, considering some of the problems that have faced the METRO rail system recently. In short, residents/commuters use METRO a lot (as well as METRO bus service) and they are willing to pay more to improve services. When asked “Which public transportation services have you used in the past month?” survey respondents indicated that “Close to one-half of the Washington, DC area residents surveyed have used any of the region’s public transportation services in the past month, most often citing Metrorail.” Source: WBA Research
When asked how likely they are to use public transportation in the future, the survey found “More than one-half of those who have not used public transportation in the past month (55%) say they are likely to consider doing so in the future. This proportion is almost twice as high among 18-34 year olds as compared to those age 55 and older.” Source: WBA Research
A high level of usage doesn’t necessarily mean that users are satisfied with the services. The reports notes that “Nearly three in ten Washington, DC area residents are satisfied with the region’s transportation system. More than one-half, however, gave more neutral ratings.” Note that this survey was conducted prior to SafeTrak and the current Safety Surges.
Source: WBA Research
Perhaps the general disappointment in the quality of services has, or can be translated into support for increasing funding for public transportation. Over 75% of the respondents support increased federal, state and local funding. In short, the report states “Overall, more than three-fourths of Washington, DC area residents would be very or somewhat likely to support increased government funding for public transportation.” Source: WBA Research
In fact, almost six in ten District of Columbia residents say they would be very likely to support such funding. Likewise, those who have used the area’s public transportation in the past month are significantly more likely than non-users to say they would be very likely to support increased public transportation funding. Still, more than seven in ten non-users would be at least somewhat likely to support an increase.” Source: WBA Research
Lastly, respondents do want the region’s leaders to figure out how to reduce congestion both through new roads and road maintenance, but also improving public transportation services. The report notes “Maintaining existing roads and bridges, as well as reducing traffic congestion by improving public transportation, are rated as the most important types of projects that the region could invest in.”