11-State Survey: Large Majority of Northeast, Mid-Atlantic Voters Want Regional Approach to Modernizing Transportation System

June 28, 2018
A new survey from Sierra Club shows strong support for making that vision a reality among voters from 11 states in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions and the District of Columbia.

Electric vehicle charging stations in every neighborhood. Cleaner air for children and the elderly. Modern roadways. Communities built for walking and biking. A vision of the future that voters across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions can embrace. Ratcheting down air pollution and relieving snarled traffic, with modern, efficient, and visionary solutions that ensure people and products can get where they need.

A new survey from Sierra Club shows strong support for making that vision a reality among voters from 11 states in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions and the District of Columbia. The survey included over-samples that deep-dive into voters’ opinions in New York State, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, Delaware and Maryland.

The Transportation Modernization Survey, carried out for the Sierra Club by Public Policy Polling (PPP), shows broad-based, bipartisan support for a regional coalition of states to implement modern clean transportation solutions, with folks from all walks of life revealing a deeper understanding of transportation issues. Key findings include the following:

• Regionally, about seven in 10 voters (71 percent) in these states support decision makers taking action to reduce air pollution from cars and trucks by investing in the transportation system, and relying more on fuel-efficient, electric cars and trucks, mass transit, and other public transportation options.

• Roughly three in four voters (74 percent) across the 11 states support moving forward with a regional transportation modernization plan that limits pollution by investing in electric vehicles, public transportation, and safer communities for walking and biking. This includes majorities of Democrats (81 percent), independents (69 percent), and Republicans (67 percent), all in agreement on this core issue.
• Transportation is now the biggest source of climate change-causing emissions in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. With the federal government moving backwards on climate action, states must take the lead, working regionally to keep us moving towards a cleaner transportation future by reducing pollution from vehicles. The survey findings reflect this reality and a growing public perception that cars, trucks and public transportation are the primary source of air pollution, including greenhouse gases. 73 percent of voters across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic consider air pollution to be a serious problem; 83 percent of voters say cars and trucks contribute at least somewhat to air pollution, including 42 percent who say they contribute “a great deal.”

• Residents in the 11 states understand that a modernized transportation system would mean cleaner air and better health. Much has been accomplished to reduce air pollution from coal-fired power plants. Decision makers know that tackling transportation emissions is the next big hurdle. Doing so would save hundreds of lives, reduce hospital ER admissions, asthma attacks suffered by children, and dangers posed to the health of pregnant women. Over half (53 percent) of those surveyed regionally agree that a clean transportation plan would have a positive effect on people’s health in the region, while a mere 7 percent think it would have a negative effect.

• Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states are heavily reliant on public transportation to bring goods to market and connect people to jobs and opportunities. Modern transportation solutions are also important for attracting business and spurring economic growth. Investments in clean transportation will inevitably create jobs. Survey findings support this idea among voters, with half (49 percent) of those surveyed regionally believing that a clean transportation initiative would have a positive effect on jobs in the region. Just 13 percent disagreed or felt it would have a negative effect.

Nick Sifuentes, executive director, Tri-State Transportation Campaign said: “Even in a region with high access to public transit, the New York City area still suffers from a myriad of transportation issues, including congested
roads, long commutes, and deteriorating public transit service. These are regional issues that require regional solutions. With transportation now the leading contributor to harmful greenhouse gases, TSTC is calling for full funding of public transportation, especially in New York and New Jersey, electrification of our transportation networks, especially MTA and NJ Transit buses, and the adoption of congestion pricing in NYC."

Brian O'Malley, president & CEO, Central Maryland Transportation Alliance, said: "A great transportation system gives you choices, whereas a last-Century transportation system forces you and everyone else to drive for every trip. These poll results confirm that Marylanders want the freedom to choose to sometimes walk, bike or ride a bus or train. Rather than cutting transit budgets and pushing old ideas like expanding highways, we call on the Administration, MDOT, and MDE to focus on working in Maryland and with fellow neighboring states to clean and modernize our transportation network by investing in solutions communities want and need.”


• Regional support for increased fuel efficiency standards remains strong (73 percent support versus 17 percent who oppose) and bipartisan (80 percent of Democrats, 69 percent of independents, and 69 percent of Republicans support the standards).

• Even after hearing arguments both in favor and in opposition to a regional clean transportation plan, a strong majority of voters (64 percent) support moving ahead with the plan, and strong supporters outnumber strong opponents by more than 3 to 1. Majority support is still found across the partisan spectrum.

• Nearly seven in 10 voters across the region consider climate change to be a serious problem, with nearly half of voters (48 percent) calling it a “very serious” problem.

A broad majority of those surveyed want a bold and region-wide approach to modernizing our transportation system in order to overcome air pollution, ageing infrastructure and the other woes associated how we move people and goods. The results of Sierra Club’s Transportation Modernization Survey show that voters in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions embrace the challenge of building a cleaner, safer, healthier, more equitable and mod