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Poll: Californians Don’t Like Gas Prices, Want Better Transit

12:06 PM PDT on July 30, 2009

7_30_09_gov.jpgThe Governor may not think transit is a priority, but his constituents do. Photo: San Diego Transit

A new survey released yesterday by the Public Policy Institute of
has been getting a lot of play in the press because of the
strong support Californians are showing for Greenhouse Gas reduction
programs, even in the midst of the current recession and budget crisis.

Often times when politicians talk about climate change, they tend to leave transportation reform out of the conversation; choosing to look at hybrid and other low- and zero-emission cars as the solution. However, the PPIC asked Californians what they thought about transit expansion and gas prices.

The results? Californians are tired of paying such a high price for gas and want more alternatives. From the PPIC's press release:

Californians (69%) are less likely than last year (76%) to report that gas prices are a financial hardship. But large majorities of some groups do, particularly Latinos (85%) and residents with annual household incomes under $40,000 (83%). And although the percentage of Californians who drive to work alone has declined 12 points since 2002, commuting patterns among employed Californians (63% drive alone, 16% carpool, 9% take public transit) are similar to last year...

...Three in four residents (77%) say the state should focus transportation planning dollars on expanding public transit and using the existing network more efficiently, up 10 points since August 2004 (67%). Just 18 percent say the state should focus on building freeways and highways.

Over at The Switchboard, the Natural Resources Defense Council's official blog, they break down those numbers for transit support by region, and what might be a surprise to some, but shouldn't be after the support for Measure R, Los Angeles is actually slightly above average when it comes to transit support.

Central Valley


San Francisco Bay Area


Los Angeles


Orange/San Diego


Inland Empire


The Switchboard goes on to state the obvious...with Californians crying out for more and better transit options; Governor Schwarzenegger and Caltrans continue to push for massive highway projects while fighting desperately in court for the right to rob funds dedicated by taxpayers to transit projects.

And Californians instinctively recognize not only the importance oftransit, but the need to make our entire transportation system moreefficient.  The environmental benefits of such an approach are madeclear in a new publication, co-sponsored by NRDC, and released earlierthis week: Moving Cooler: Transportation Policies to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions.  This first-of-its-kind study looks at nearly 50 measures andcombinations thereof, assessing their potential to save fuel, reduceheat-trapping pollution and save consumers money. 

California’s policymakers would be well-advised to read Moving Cooler.  As the Kinks said, Give the People What They Want.

Since I appreciate a good Kinks reference as much as the next person, I'll leave it at that.

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