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Survey of Atlanta Residents Shows Increased Support for Transit, Willingness to Pay

The 2018 Metro Atlanta Speaks survey shows increasing demand for transit in Atlanta amidst a growing economy.

Published: 12/18/18

In their 6th annual regional Metro Atlanta Speaks survey, the Atlanta Regional Commission found that a majority of City of Atlanta residents are willing to pay more in taxes to fund expanded regional public transit that includes buses and rail.

Most Atlanta Residents Would Pay More in Taxes for Transit

Sixty percent of City residents either agree or strongly agree with the statement "I am willing to pay more in taxes to fund expanded regional public transit that includes buses and rail."

Jim Skinner, a planner with the Research and Analytics group at the Atlanta Regional Commission, said that this support for public transportation in the City of Atlanta is significantly higher than any other jurisdiction measured in the survey. City of Atlanta residents indeed did recently fund a transit expansion; in 2016, a vast majority of Atlanta residents voted for a $2.5 billion MARTA expansion.

The average percent of residents who agree or strongly agree with the statement about willingness to pay taxes for expanded public transit in the metro Atlanta region as a whole is just over 50%.

"The economy has gotten better in the core of the region," said Skinner. "MARTA is improving and the road network is improving, but it's not enough to keep up with job growth and related traffic in the city."

Further, the survey also found that 78% of new residents in the City of Atlanta (those living in Atlanta for less than ten years) would be willing to pay more in taxes for expanded transit. Skinner said that those people are "more than likely moving from an area with alternative modes of transportation."

According to the survey, as income levels increase, so does concern with public transportation. Over 60% of metro Atlanta residents making $150K-$250K annually are willing to pay increased taxes for expanded transit. This is in contrast to the approximately 50% of residents in the $25K-$60K range who would pay higher taxes for expanded transit.

Transit Remains An Increasing Concern For Atlanta Residents

In 2018, yet again there is an increase in the share of Atlanta residents who consider transportation to be the biggest problem facing metro Atlanta residents. This year, 24% of City of Atlanta residents consider transportation the biggest problem. This share of residents has slowly risen from 17% in 2016 and 21% in 2017.

"There is a lot of movement happening in Atlanta with the improvement of the economy—congestion is more in your face," Skinner said.

Transportation: An Area For Growth

Additional findings of the survey include the fact that in the City of Atlanta, 43% of residents feel that they frequently lack the transportation they need. Skinner said that number stands out, and is greater than every other area surveyed in the metro Atlanta region.

“That’s in an improving economy," said Skinner. "People need to go more places.”

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