NC: Survey Finds Most Depend on Cars, But Support Other Modes of Transit

According to a new transportation study, more New Hanover County residents hope to be able to use more public transportation or carpools in the future.

It was clear that the nearly 4,000 survey participants who took the Cape Fear Transportation 2040 survey want to change how they get from point A to point B.

The survey, which was administered between May and November after the Wilmington Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) kicked off the transportation plan, showed area residents overwhelmingly use a private vehicle for everyday tasks.

More than 80 percent of the participants said they use a private vehicle for getting to work and taking children to school, and 90 percent said they use their own cars for running errands.

If the survey results are to be believed — or participants take action to change their modes of transportation — there could be fewer vehicles on the roads and more people riding the bus.

While 55 percent of the participants said they plan to continue their current preferred mode of transportation, 45 percent said they would prefer to utilize available public transportation when it comes to running errands.

Survey participants showed that alternative modes of transportation are not limited to carpooling or taking the bus.

When it comes to running errands, the participants -- which included 87 percent white residents and an annual income range of $0 to more than $100,000 — 65 percent said they wanted to use a bicycle more in the future.

The survey results were initially presented to the MPO Technical Coordinating Committee Jan. 15 during the group's regular meeting.

They will next be presented Thursday to the organization's transportation advisory committee.

No action was taken over the results during the Jan. 15 meeting.

Mike Kozlosky, executive director for the MPO, said the results would be used to rank and prioritize the addressing of transportation needs for New Hanover County, as well as parts of Brunswick and Pender counties.

Cape Fear Transportation 2040 will be used by federal, state and local governments to guide transportation projects in the region for the next 25 years. Once it is finalized, it will replace the Cape Fear Commutes 2035 plan, which expires in December 2015.

Since the plan will help dictate how to improve transportation in the region, participants weighed in on what changes they want to see.

Participants said they would use public transportation more if there was more frequent bus services or express routes around the area. But 38 percent of the participants said there's nothing that could prompt them to choose riding the bus.

It seemed there is also nothing local transportation officials can do to stimulate residents to carpool more often, either. Of the survey participants, nearly half said there's nothing that could be done to make them want to carpool. Those participants cited logistical reasons for not wanting to use that type of transportation.

The future of residents using a bicycle to get around seemed more promising.

The top two ways residents would bike more is if there were more off-road paths and more on-road bike lanes in the county. Those options garnered 62 percent and 47 percent of the vote, respectively.

In addition to asking residents about their preferred mode of transportation, the 16-question survey also asked how transportation funding should be used.

Respondents said they would like to see money spent on improving road safety, improving road quality and bicycle/pedestrian safety measures.

Caitlin Dineen: 343-2339

Twitter: @CaitlinDineen

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