Management & Operations

60% of public believe transportation is fair or poor, says FHWA survey

Posted on May 1, 2001

Sixty percent of more than 5,000 people surveyed feels the United States transportation system is doing a fair or poor job meeting the needs of most people, according to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Forty percent said transportation services for the disabled were poor. Meanwhile, about one in four said the same about transportation for children. The study, "Moving Ahead: The American Public Speaks on Roadways and Transportation in Communities,” asked individuals to respond to questions including those concerning their satisfaction with highways, how transportation affects their lives and what improvements could be made to better serve their community. Seventy percent agreed or strongly agreed that their community would benefit from expanding existing public transportation. Susan Slye, a transportation specialist with the FHWA, said the U.S. Department of Transportation addresses the needs of the disabled with its new Freedom Initiative, which allocates funding for transportation alternatives for people with disabilities. Sixty-five percent of the respondents are satisfied or very satisfied with the highway system in general, a 15% increase from surveys taken in 1995. Despite marked improvement in satisfaction, 53% of travelers find traffic congestion to be the most important reason for trip delays. Those surveyed registered a 20% increase in “dissatisfaction” regarding traffic flow (from 23% in 1995 to 43% in 2000). “Solving the congestion problem, providing the level of mobility the public continues to demand, is going to take a broad set of solutions,” said Vincent Pearce, transportation specialist at the FHWA. He points to improved traffic signal systems, increased fare card use and more efficient work zones on roads being repaired as some of the ways the FHWA plans to respond to the public’s dissatisfaction with traffic flow. “We can’t build our way out of congestion anymore,” said Slye. Both Slye and Pearce agreed that there is a limit to the amount of pavement that can be added to today’s landscape. Instead, the FHWA will concentrate on increasing efficiency in existing highways and transportation systems. “We have to get the most out of our resources as we can and adapt them,” Pearce said. Traffic affects the decisions people make regarding when they travel and where they want to live. More than 60% of the respondents said traffic flow influenced the time that they travel and which routes they take. Thirty percent said it factored in their choice of where to live. Community functions are also affected by transportation. More than 80% of the people responded that transportation helps to make their community a better place to live and contributes to community economic well being. Moving Ahead combines three surveys that were taken by the FHWA in 2000. Results were compared to similar surveys taken in 1995 to find rates of increase or decrease.

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