Photo by AvgeekJoe

This morning, the Washington State Transportation Commission released the first results of its Voice of Washington survey, which polled respondents on their feelings about State transportation funding and investments.  The highlight conclusion from the survey results shows a broad willingness to invest more in transportation, transit and rail included.  However, support is split on funding methods for such new investments, as only a third of the given options received majority support.

Several of the findings seem to add insult to the injury of I-1125’s defeat.  Not only did the majority of respondents support sharing use of  toll revenue within a travel corridor (i.e., not limited to the tolled facility, an 1125 restriction), both variable tolling and HOT lanes, two of Tim Eyman’s favorite targets, received over 60% support.  In addition to majority support for tolls as a new funding stream, a vehicle emissions fee and an electric vehicle license fee were also strongly favored.  On the losing side, only 46% supported an increase in the age-old gas tax.

Transit and passenger rail fared well in the survey, receiving 63% of support.  Around 60% also supported continued funding of the State ferry system.   What’s more ambiguous is differentiating where transit falls into the three investment priorities most strongly favored by respondents: repairing/maintaining the existing system, increasing capacity, and expanding travel options.  How much transit was perceived as part of these priorities, versus roads, is certainly less clear.

More findings are available at Publicola.  The survey will remain open through the end of the year.

50 Replies to “Survey Results Positive for Transportation Investments”

    1. That’s a fun survey to dig into. I was one of the ones surveyed for it.

      Top transportation issue, citywide: “Inadequate Transit”

      Top transportation issue, just your neighborhood: “Potholes/poor pavement”

      Are you aware of Bridging the Gap: 73% not aware.

      That last point says it all, really. No one knows about BTG. No one knows that we’re currently spending a ton of money catching up on a decades old road maintenance backlog. And we’re on a long timeline for getting the road maintenance backlog caught up, so people haven’t seen the kind of magic instant improvements they want. We could accelerate that time line, but it’d start to cost more per-project.

      Our pavement conditions are a problem that’s handled. It’s in the bank. Assuming that BTG is renewed and/or another street maintenance package is passed, we’ll get caught up in a couple decades.

      Other fun numbers from the survey: the neighborhood breakdowns. Zero respondents from Magnolia/Queen Anne thought inadequate transit was a problem. Zero respondents from South Seattle thought parking was a problem. Zero respondents from the Northeast thought that SR520 was a problem. Zero respondents from the Northwest thought the Viaduct was a problem.

      Because of the small sample sizes from each neighborhood, those aren’t completely trustworthy; only the whole-city numbers have a big enough sample size to be properly analyzed. But it’s still amusing.

      1. Sorry, Lack, I just don’t buy it — “Our pavement conditions are a problem that’s handled. It’s in the bank. Assuming that BTG is renewed and/or another street maintenance package is passed, we’ll get caught up in a couple decades.”

        I can’t wait two decades for my buses to have smooth pavement to operate on. Cyclists are tired of dodging potholes (along with traffic) and they can’t wait another 20 years either. It’s NOT “in the bank.”

        Prop 1 failed not because of not enough transit, but because it ignored fundamental priorities.

      2. We are not catching up on the road maintenance backlog, which is around $1.6 billion dollars and growing. Not even close. Where did you come up with that?

        The CTAC survey, which was a valid survey, showed that city-wide only 31% said inadequate transit was one of the top two priorities facing Seattle. The next 4 highest priorities were:

        traffic/congestion: 28%
        potholes/poor pavement: 19%
        Alaskan Way viaduct: 17%
        SR 520 bridge: 9%

        In all, of the top ten priorities citywide, 5 were about roads, totaling 76%, and 4 were about transit, totaling 42%.

        Light rail came in at #7 citywide, with only 5% considering it one of the top two transportation priorities in Seattle. Streetcars and bike infrastructure were not even in the top ten, and so had 3% or less of the vote.

      3. I think it’s a little disingenuous to say that “potholes/poor pavement” is entirely about cars. I took the survey a few months ago and, in spite of not even owning a car, I put down “potholes/poor pavement” as one of my top concerns because potholes and poor pavement make a very bumpy ride on my bike. “Inadaquate transit”, I listed as a seconday concern because the survey seemed focus on intra-Seattle issues, which means short enough distances so that inadequate transit is always work-around-able by walking or riding a bike. As is stands today, the bulk of my bus rides are Sound Transit buses on freeways, with walking and biking my primary modes of transportation for trips within north Seattle.

      4. I said potholes/poor pavement was about “roads”, not “cars.”

        And, yes, most transit in our area is completely dependent on roads. Without roads, you have no buses.

      5. What roads are you on, Lack? Up in north Seattle, the roads basically suck all over. Greenwood is bad from 73rd on up to 145th. 85th is bad from the freeway to 24th NW, although it is just NOW starting to be repaired. I like taking the bus because I’m able to sit back and relax, read the paper and watch the scenery go by. Well, now I get a headache when I try to read because the bus is bouncing all over the place and it is far from relaxing because of all the potholes and ruts.

      6. The roads do suck all over.

        But it’s taken half a century of neglect for them to get this way, and it’s not reasonable to expect it to all be fixed tomorrow. Even if you wanted to, there’s no practical way to get it done quickly, unless you want to start paying big bucks to bring in contractors from all over the northwest.

        Thanks to BTG, we’re fixing roads faster than they’re degrading. We’re still decades behind, but we’re not falling further behind anymore. And SDOT is finally actually getting a pretty complete inventory of street conditions around the city (which has, of course, swelled the deferred maintenance list – but these are not new issues, just newly documented ones).

        And if you’re still dodging potholes on your commute, you’re not doing your job as a citizen. Report every pothole. Repairing potholes is SDOT’s top priority, but SDOT relies exclusively on citizen reports to find them. If you do not report it, it will not get patched. They are typically filled within 1 business day of a report, and I’ve never reported one that wasn’t patched within the week.

        I live around 23rd. It’s bad. One of the worst in the city. BUT. The rebuild (which should have been done in the late 80’s) is funded and scheduled for 2015. And they recently ground and resurfaced a couple of the worst sections where the potholes wouldn’t stay closed, as a stopgap until the new roadbed can be built.

        Regarding the streets that Cincea is complaining about, Greenwood and 85th are both fully funded, with both rebuilds scheduled for 2012.

        When BTG comes up for renewal I will vote for it, and so will most of the rest of the city. If it’s bulked up to accelerate the process, I’m pretty sure everyone will be fine with that. But there’s no reason that has to hold up any transit projects.

  1. The Voice of Washington Survey is utterly meaningless. It is just an online survey, which anyone can take. It is not a representative sample of WA state voters in any way.

    How do you tax vehicle emissions, other than by taxing gasoline and diesel?

    1. No it’s not. Read page 2 of the full results that Publicola linked to. The initial survey was not an open online survey that anyone can take. If it were like that, they wouldn’t need to hire EMC Research to do it.

      They sent 100,000 invitations to Washington residents to complete the survey online or by phone. They ended up with a statistically valid and demographically representative sample of responses from across the entire state.

      1. The state survey does not gibe with the CTAC survey in Seattle, which was a scientifically valid survey.

        The state survey shows that, statewide, 52% support tolls to fund transportation projects, while the Seattle survey found only 34% in favor of tolls. In fact, the state survey found that in the PSRC (Puget Sound Region) 54% supported tolls for tranportation projects, compared to the 34% support in the CTAC survey in Seattle, only. So, are we to believe that Seattle residents have vastly less support for tolling than the PSRC or the state as a whole?

        Another funny thing about the state survey is that 61% statewide support emissions fees, while only 46% support a gas tax, which is basically the same thing as an emissions fee.

        The state survey was not conducted in the way scientific polls are usually done. You don’t normally “invite” 100,000 people to do a survey. In a scientific poll, you interview a representative group of people.

      2. The state survey was not conducted in the way scientific polls are usually done. You don’t normally “invite” 100,000 people to do a survey. In a scientific poll, you interview a representative group of people.

        Interview/invite; you say tomato I say tomato. Who cares? A significant percentage of “something” responded this way. Yippee. Polls cost money, they’re always bias.

      3. In a scientific poll, you interview a representative group of people.

        Which is exactly what they did.

        “Invite” is just layman’s term for saying “we randomly sampled 100,000 people from across the state and sent them a letter to complete the survey online or by phone”. I got a letter from the National Science Foundation to complete a survey online/by phone/by mail. It’s the same thing.

        Anyone can do a dumb online poll, just look at the ORCA feedback survey. No need to spend $$ hiring EMC Research to do all that sampling and questionnaire writing.

  2. Reading is hard.
    “The commission invited 100,000 adult Washington residents to participate in the online transportation survey. The sample was structured based on the state’s 14 Regional Transportation Planning Organizations (RTPOs) so that statistically valid data would be available for purposes of regional comparisons. The goal was to collect a minimum of 5,000 demographically representative responses from across the state. A total of 5,518 responses were collected, exceeding the goal.”

    1. And we know for sure that the self-selected 5,518 respondents are a relevant cross-section of he 100,000 who were “invited” to participate in this survey?

      Evidence, please.

  3. most survey respondents seemed inclined to support taxes they believed others, but not themselves, would have to pay.

    There’s a shocker! That’s the real level of support… I’m all in as long as I don’t have to pay a dime. As the recent Amtrak commercial captured so brilliantly; most peoples level of support stops with the purchase of a toy train for Xmas.

    The truth, of course, is that Eastern Washington and Spokane are among the most heavily subsidized areas of the state in terms of state transportation funding.

    The truth of course is that spending on I-90 goes to support the Port of Seattle and to a lesser extent Tacoma and the import of goods to supply the Puget Sound Region. It ain’t there to provide Lexus lanes from Spokane to Cheney. Truck traffic, which doesn’t pay it’s fair share of road taxes is almost totally responsible for the wear and tear on the highway.

  4. I hear what you are saying about shared burdens; however, please remember, without subsidies, is Seattle itself sustainable given the modern lifestyle? I mean, yes, it has (had) natural resources like salmon, and farming, but unless we intent to revert to Duwamish lodges (not an unpleasant idea) we still have to import…across mountains…a heck of a lot of stuff!

    1. It’s more sustainable than any lower density community – which has to import all the same stuff, plus some.

      1. Ben is back! Sustainablity should include Seattle exporting tons of waste via rail (coal to the people!!!) to rural Oregon.

      2. Unlike most suburban communities, Seattle is going to great lengths to reduce their solid waste. Our per-capita garbage is pretty good.

        Then, of course, there’s my coworkers who proudly say “Oh, I don’t have to recycle, I live in Lynnwood” when I’m trying to explain the three cans.

      3. Seattle is one of the top US cities in recycling but that’s a pretty low bar. Driven by a trend to “live green” and also by having some of the highest tipping rates in the State because of long haul dumping Seattle diverts about half of what would otherwise go to the dump through recycling. But, it’s behind the rest of the county (with lower rates). Why? Multi-family housing:

        In 2007, recycling in the multi-family sector increased from 26.3% to 27.6%, an increase of 1.2%. This represents a significant increase especially considering this sector’s low base recycling rate.

        This needs to be changed before anyone can legitimately claim multi-family is universally more sustainable.

      4. Opps, forgot to include a link:

        Indicator: Solid Waste Disposal Rates

        Also, it’s hard to find the per capita rates. It’s likely that per capita Seattle produces less pounds per day than the rest of the county. And then you’d have to factor in residential and commercial. Per household is a terrible metric to compare different areas since the average number of people per household could vary greatly.

      5. Honestly, percentages mean nothing, without some indication of the absolute amount of waste being generated/diverted. For example, single-family homes produce large quantities of yard waste, the vast majority of which goes to compost; multi-family homes produce significantly less.

        Anyway, it’s clear that the main problem with multi-family recycling is poor enforcement. I admit that this is a difficult problem. With single-family housing, you know who to blame if the garbage bin has aluminum cans; with multi-family buildings, you don’t. But still, the long-term trend is positive. And there are lots of things we can do — like bottle deposits — which would greatly improve the situation at very low cost.

      6. No DOUBT!!! How can WA have any creds as being green without a bottle deposit. Hard to blame this one on the Re-puke-black-cains when the State House, Senate and Governor have been Demonic-rats for years. Seattle gets props for banning styrofoam food containers and (really important) severely restricting plastic bags. Be-geez-ous, we’re a wood products state; how hard should it be to promote paper?

      7. single-family homes produce large quantities of yard waste, the vast majority of which goes to compost;

        Compost is good. It even gets used to clean up oil spills and super fund sites. If that yard waste is produced as a byproduct of raising food even better. Larger single family lots can even compost and use it on site. We sport a three story worm farm which honestly a small condo owner could do on a deck. Multi-family should be super easy to recycle. Instead of everyone needing multiple containers you have common containers within an easy walk. They should be doing a military style separation but instead by and large just don’t give a damn.

      8. Compost is fantastic. I put all of my food waste into compost. But my point is, if an apartment resident has 1 lb of trash and 0.5 lb of food waste, and a single-family resident has 2 lbs of trash and 20 lbs of food/yard waste, then percentages will make it look like the SFH resident is doing better, even though the apartment dweller is sending less trash to the landfill.

        My other point about apartments is just that, if people are lazy and decide to throw all their stuff into a single container (landfill trash), there isn’t much you can do about it. You can charge a fine to the building, but how do they know who’s putting recycles in the trash? But with SFH, you can just not pick up the house’s trash containers if they have a lot of recyclables, and you better believe someone will fix that fast.

      9. Good point that enforcement is hard with multifamily. A duplex not so much but an apartment building, yea, pretty much impossible. But the ability to toss families in jail hasn’t really been an issue. Seattle (and King County) loves recycling almost to a fault. It should be easier to do a much better job of waste separation at apartments. Pain in the ass for single family to separate colors of glass and cart out multiple containers to the curb. Apartment it’s easy. Basically apartment dwellers “statistically” just don’t give a damn. By and large they have no stake in the community. The more multi-family rental units you bring in the more it’s a problem. And of course this is the prime transit market.

      10. In an interdependent society, none of us are sustainable unless we all are. The bright side of this is that we can all live sustainably, without all being self-sufficient, and maintain considerable differentiation in occupations and lifestyles, if we can reform our production and consumption habits considerably.

        To wit, our food is, by and large, not grown in a sustainable manner (especially animal products), so almost none of us are living sustainably, urban, suburban, or rural. Efficiency in things like transportation and building heating only get you so far. Ultimately we’re only sustainable if we take in resources no faster than our environment can supply us, and generate waste and pollution no faster than our environment can process it. None of us are likely close.

      11. “Basically apartment dwellers “statistically” just don’t give a damn. By and large they have no stake in the community.”

        Do you have any evidence for this, or is it just supposition.

        I also noticed you completely ignored Aleks point. In case you missed it the first time:

        “But my point is, if an apartment resident has 1 lb of trash and 0.5 lb of food waste, and a single-family resident has 2 lbs of trash and 20 lbs of food/yard waste, then percentages will make it look like the SFH resident is doing better, even though the apartment dweller is sending less trash to the landfill.”

      12. I gave the link to the King County report that documented recycling rates are less than half the city average. I noted in my post that I couldn’t find per capita lbs./day for Seattle, only County and State. Finding it broken down by SF vs multi-family would be even more detailed. I believe turn over is much higher in multi-family which leads to lots of stuff being left behind (like couches) that aren’t worth the cost of moving. Another factor might be people in apartments eating out more which transfers the waste from the residential side to the commercial side making a waste footprint hard to establish.

  5. There is a stark contrast between the survey showing a willingness of people to support a vehicle license fee to pay for transportation improvements and the miserable failure of Proposition 1. To me, this seems like proof that the survey is not representative of the Seattle population as a whole.

    1. Or that my piece pointing out that both cost *and* benefit matter in a transportation package had a point. :)

    2. I think it’s proof that Prop 1 was not well put together. No signature project, no campaign to explain it, too many small different projects rolled into one package. It was stillborn.

      To me it’s an echo of Roads & Transit from ’07. But I’ve ranted this to death in other threads.

    3. There is no contrast. The CTAC survey showed only about 39% suupport for increasing license fees. And it got a little under 44%. What were you expecting? 39% is hardly “willingness of people to support a vehicle license fee.”

      Where is the stark contrast between the survey results and the election results? Both showed well under 50% support for increased license fees.

    1. No kidding indeed. I wasn’t sure if I could believe you there. But that’s BOGO, not free. And I don’t know anyone in Portland.

      I might go down for the LeMons race in February, though. There’s an excuse!

  6. Nice ferry picture up there ^^^^

    Y’know, every time I have ridden that one, it never got me to Wenatchee like it says on its destination sign.

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