Press Releases/

Investments in Mass Transit are Key to Economic Growth and Job Creation, New Survey Shows

NEW YORK—A new survey of voters in four major U.S. cities, including Boston, Chicago, Nashville and Pittsburgh, showed that investments in mass transit are key to economic growth and job creation. A large majority of those surveyed say that it is important to invest in public transportation to ensure communities continue to grow and thrive—Boston (91 percent agree), Chicago (71 percent agree), Nashville (63 percent agree) and Pittsburgh (89 percent agree). Many also believe good public transportation helps improve the economy and create jobs—Boston (90 percent agree), Chicago (88 percent agree), Nashville (85 percent agree), and Pittsburgh (85 percent agree).

When asked about specific mass transit options such as bus rapid transit (BRT)—a high-performance public transportation system that delivers the reliability, accessibility and speed of rail systems, along with the flexibility of bus systems, at a fraction of the construction cost—a majority of voters support bringing BRT to each of the four cities surveyed—Boston (52 percent support), Chicago (59 percent support), Nashville (77 percent support) and Pittsburgh (66 percent support). The survey, funded by The Rockefeller Foundation and conducted by Global Strategy Group, examined voters’ perceptions and attitudes towards mass transit and their support for BRT.

“The survey findings illustrate a growing awareness among residents that in order to achieve a strong, vibrant economy and improve access to employment opportunities, there must be greater investment in public transportation,” says Benjamin de la Peña, associate director of The Rockefeller Foundation. “As city planners and elected officials evaluate mass transit options in their communities, BRT should be on top of the list because it’s one the fastest and most cost-effective ways to expand and modernize public transportation.”

According to the survey, more than six-in-ten voters in each city say they would take BRT instead of driving or take other forms of public transit if it made their commute faster—Boston (72 percent agree), Chicago (73 percent agree), Nashville (62 percent agree) and Pittsburgh (69 percent agree). Moreover, a majority of voters in the four cities say they would pay an additional 10 cents a day for better, more reliable public transportation options that reduce their commute—Boston (75 percent agree), Chicago (71 percent agree), Nashville (63 percent agree) and Pittsburgh (70 percent agree).

The survey also showed that voters across the four cities found “reliability” and “accessibility” as the top benefits of BRT, followed by faster travel times.

  • More than six-in-ten voters surveyed in each city say that “regular, on-time arrivals with fewer delays” is a very important benefit of BRT to them personally–Boston (68 percent), Chicago (61 percent), Nashville (69 percent) and Pittsburgh (75 percent).
  • Similarly, “platform-level boarding so wheelchairs and strollers can roll on and off easily and quickly” is very important to a solid majority of voters in each city–Boston (62 percent), Chicago (58 percent), Nashville (63 percent) and Pittsburgh (62 percent).
  • Voters also find that faster travel time is a very important benefit of BRT–Boston (48 percent), Chicago (53 percent), Nashville (46 percent) and Pittsburgh (50 percent).

“If done right, the benefits of BRT can go beyond improvements in transportation speed, reliability and accessibility,” says de la Peña. “High-quality BRT systems can also make communities more livable by enhancing overall quality of life for transit riders and drivers, improving air quality and connecting more people to more jobs and services.”

About The Survey

Global Strategy Group (GSG) conducted a public opinion survey among a total of 2,000 registered voters in Boston, Chicago, Nashville and Pittsburgh between February 20 and June 5, 2013, with 500 interviews in each city. The survey was conducted using live telephone interviewers, with representative samples of registered voters in each city by geography, gender, age and ethnicity.

About The Rockefeller Foundation

The Rockefeller Foundation aims to achieve equitable growth by expanding opportunity for more people in more places worldwide, and to build resilience by helping them prepare for, withstand and emerge stronger from acute shocks and chronic stresses. Throughout its 100-year history, The Rockefeller Foundation has enhanced the impact of innovative thinkers and actors working to change the world by providing the resources, networks, convening power and technologies to move them from idea to impact. In today’s dynamic and interconnected world, The Rockefeller Foundation has a unique ability to address the emerging challenges facing humankind through innovation, intervention and influence in order to shape agendas and inform decision-making. Please visit www.rockefellerfoundation.org  for more information.

Back to Top