Report: 3 of 4 say U.S. transportation infrastructure upkeep key

Posted on May 28, 2013

Three out of four Americans say having safe, efficient and well-maintained transportation infrastructure is at least, if not more, important to their personal livelihood and well-being than good cable, cell phone, Internet, water, sewage and household electricity and natural gas services, according to a new report.

Those are key findings of a national poll commissioned by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), to see how valuable Americans think road and transit network is to the nation, their everyday life, and relative to other modern necessities they routinely rely upon.

Poll findings include:

  • Eight out of 10 Americans (78%) say driving a motor vehicle is “very” or “extremely” important to their ability to conduct their daily lives. Twenty-one percent (including 34% of low income respondents) say the same about using public transportation;
  • Nearly nine out of 10 respondents (88%) say transportation infrastructure is important to maintaining a strong U.S. economy;
  • 83% say the nation's transportation network is important in ensuring national defense and emergency response capabilities;
  • 71% agree that growing traffic congestion in U.S. metropolitan areas is making products more expensive, because congestion increases transportation costs for businesses.
  • 74% of us agree that “investing in transportation infrastructure should be a core function of the federal government.”

The poll revealed that many Americans probably have no idea how much they are paying each month in the state and federal gas taxes that are the primary source of funding for road and transit capital investments.

Asked the question how much their household pays each month in gas taxes, 40% of respondents say they “don’t know.” According to Federal Highway Administration data, the average U.S. household paid $46 per month in gas taxes in 2011 — the most current year available.

One-quarter of respondents (24%) estimated they pay more than double that amount, which in some cases is likely an overstatement, as this would involve buying enough gas to fuel a household’s cars for nearly 5,400 miles per month, while federal data show the average household with one or more cars drives just over 2,100 miles per month.

U.S. Commerce Department 2011 data show the average household spends about three-and-a-half times more each month for household electricity and natural gas service ($160) than Americans pay in state and federal gas taxes. Americans also pay three-and-a-half times as much monthly, on average, for landline and cell phone service ($161) and nearly two-and-a-half times as much for cable and satellite television, radio and Internet access ($124). Americans pay almost 19% a month more, on average, just for Internet access.

For the research, a total 1,001 interviews of American adults were conducted over the phone from April 4 to 8, collected from the Ipsos Public Affairs telephone omnibus survey, TeleNation. It included both randomly selected landline and cell phone interviews, conducted in either English or Spanish depending on the respondent. The data were weighted to reflect Current Population Study statistics on age within gender, U.S. Census Region, market size, education, race and ethnicity.

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