Elon University released a poll today on transportation in North Carolina. The jist of it… People want more transportation options but don’t want to pay for it.
I have some complaints with the wording and choices for some of the questions.
For example, they asked an open-ended question on what was the most important issue facing transportation in North Carolina. The results were:
Gas Prices – 30.8%
Public Transportation – 17.1%
Road Conditions/Quality – 12.7%
Congestion – 9.7%
Traffic – 4.0%
Road Construction – 3.2%
My beef here is, why are "congestion" and "traffic" listed as two separate answers? Aren’t they basically the same thing? And isn’t "road quality" and "road construction" basically the same thing as well?
Also, I highly doubt 17.1% of the people responded specifically "public transportation." Some probably said we need more bus routes, other probably said more light rail or mass transit options. So why were they all grouped together into "public transportation" other than to make that response seem like it was more important?
Why was "public transportation" grouped as one answer when four roads-specific answers were listed singularly? The obvious answer is there is some sort of bias in attempting to make it seem there is more support for public transportation than roads.
Second, their questions on tolls are misleading. The questions make it sound like the state is going to stick toll booths on existing roads to collect more money. In fact, the only proposal for toll roads is to be collected on newly-constructed roads (finishing 540, finishing 485, Monroe bypass, Triangle Parkway, another bridge to the outer banks, etc). To make it sound otherwise is nothing more than scare tactics and is polling something that isn’t reality.
And sure people say they support more rail options when you don’t give them a price tag for it. Living in Fantasyland where everything is free is fantastic, but again, not realistic. Why not ask the public if they support raising $2 billion in taxes to pay for that rail expansion?
Asking blanket questions with no basis for personal impact or personal reflection is pointless. It’s like asking children if they like ponies. Of course they are going to say yes. Do they like ponies as much when they have to feed them and clean up after them? Of course not.
So maybe I’ve changed my summation of this poll by Elon — basically, it’s a poll of the wishlist of transportation if we lived in some magical world where trains and asphalt grew on trees. But things cost money, real money, and people don’t seem to want to pay. So without juxtaposing those two things together, the poll is basically worthless. But the media will fawn over it anyway.