Reason-Rupe Public Opinion Survey

Poll: 73% of Americans Say Transportation Spending Is Inefficient, Would Prefer to Pay for Highway Repairs With Tolls Rather Than Taxes


Air travelers are worried about missile strikes and don't think new airport security fees will increase safety, but are confident in the TSA.

The new Reason-Rupe national telephone poll of 1,000 adults finds 73 percent of Americans believe the government spends existing transportation funding inefficiently. Just 21 percent of Americans think government spends transportation money efficiently.

Nevertheless, 46 percent of Americans think the federal government needs to spend more money on transportation infrastructure than it does today, 30 percent think the government needs to spend about the same amount as now, and 21 percent believe the federal government should spend less on transportation.


Reason-Rupe finds 85 percent of Americans oppose raising the federal gas tax. Mileage-based user fees are often discussed as the future of transportation funding, however 72 percent of Americans tell Reason-Rupe they oppose eliminating the gas tax and replacing it with a fee based on the number of miles driven. Only 23 percent favor replacing the gas tax with a mileage fee.

When asked about a specific funding challenge: paying for needed repairs and the expansion of existing Interstate highways, 58 percent of Americans say they'd rather pay for those projects with tolls, while 32 percent would prefer to pay for them by raising the fuel tax.

When asked to choose their top priority for transportation spending, a majority of Americans—55 percent—chose highways and streets, but a large number (38%) ranked transit first, and 5 percent put bicycle and walking trails atop the list.

Air Travel

As the investigation into the Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 crash in Ukraine continues, 47 percent of Americans say they are "somewhat" or "very" worried that terrorists might shoot down a passenger plane in the United States.  Fifty-two percent say they are "not too" worried or "not at all" worried about missile attacks on US passenger planes.

Forty-two percent of those surveyed say they'd be willing to pay higher airline ticket prices to arm US passenger planes with anti-missile technology, while 54 percent would not be willing to pay higher ticket prices.

Reason-Rupe finds that Americans don't believe the recent increase in airport security fees will result in an increase in safety: 74 percent say giving the Transportation Security Administration more funding "wont make a difference" in safety. Twenty-one percent say the higher fees will make air travel "more safe."

When it comes to the TSA's ability to find knives, guns and bombs, 52 percent of Americans say they are "somewhat" confident that the TSA would find the weapons, 24 percent are "very" confident in the TSA, 14 percent are  "not too confident," and 9 percent are "not at all confident" in the TSA's ability to spot weapons.

With some US airports now using private airport security screeners instead of TSA screeners, 46 percent of Americans think the private screeners will be about the same as TSA screeners, 31 percent think private screeners will be more cost-effective than the TSA, and 18 percent feel private screeners will be less cost-effective than TSA.

The Reason-Rupe national telephone poll, executed by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, conducted live interviews with 1000 adults on cell phones (500) and landlines (500) August 6-10, 2014. The poll's margin of error is +/-3.7%. Full poll results can be found here, including poll toplines (pdf)  and crosstabs (xls). 


NEXT: Poll: 73% of Americans Say Transportation Spending Is Inefficient, Would Prefer to Pay for Highway Repairs With Tolls Rather Than Taxes

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  1. Another example of a poorly worded question-begging poll by the already discredited evil Koch-funded reason magazine. If you really had been trying to get information without pursuing an agenda, you would have phrased the question in an unbiased manner thusly:

    “Q: But,but, but what about muh ROADZ!!!!!!!!!????!”

    1. “Q: Would you prefer a government that provided roads, or a government that made you walk through the woods to get everywhere?”

  2. Couldn’t they have broken the poll down farther so we would know just what millennials thought?


    1. In the words of Frank Reynolds, or actually Charlie Kelley, “you have to pay the troll toll to get into that boy’s hole.” I guess that means I’m for it.

      1. It sounds like you’re saying “boy’s hole”…are you chewing gum?

      2. Charlie’s words were “Boy’s soul”.

  3. If 73% of people think transportation funds are spent inefficiently, that means 27% of people are either ignorant or involved in the road construction business in one way or another. At the state and local level, I would wager that road construction is the single biggest source of graft and corruption and insider wheeling and dealing.

    There may be a limited amount of money for roads, but it’s a very high limit, nobody complains about new roads being built and stops to wonder why this road and not that one, nobody builds their own roads and therefore knows how much a road should cost compared to how much it does, nobody pays attention to how many road construction companies there are and who owns them and how many contracts they get, nobody pays attention to the fact that the local developer who built that new shopping center along the new road bought that property 3 months before the roads department actually even publicly announced that they were going to build the new road.

    1. C’mon fraud and waste never happens when our master planners build things for the proletariate.

    2. The routing of Interstate highways like I-95 in New Jersey and I-295 in Virginia (the Richmond not-quite-a-beltway) has a lot to do with the locations of politicians’ land holdings.

  4. Emily, the crosstabs exclude the questions about air travel, I’m pretty sure.

    Did you break those out by how frequently people actually flew? Very hard to find data on TSA/security approval among actual air travelers.

    1. Air travel questions also missing from the questionnaire.

  5. I wish there were more tolls or that tolls were higher. Poor people drive like shit.

  6. But do people prefer tolls and taxes like we have in Jersey?

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