Survey: Most Chicagoans Support Bus Rapid Transit

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CTA rendering of bus rapid transit on Ashland Avenue.

While the anti-bus rapid transit crowd would have you believe there’s little backing for the city’s plan for fast, reliable service on Ashland Avenue, a new survey found that a majority of Chicago voters support BRT as a solution to the city’s transit needs. The new opinion data comes in addition to the 23 local businesses and organizations that have already signed on as supporters of bus rapid transit, as well as the over 1400 residents who’ve signed an Active Transportation Alliance petition voicing their support for the plan.

Of the Chicagoans polled, 59 percent said they supported bringing bus rapid transit to the city, while just 10 percent opposed. However, it’s worth noting that 75 percent said they knew little or nothing about the city’s Ashland BRT proposal prior to the survey. After the interviewer read some of the potential benefits of BRT, such as faster service, and pre-paid, level boarding, 73 percent of the respondents said they would switch from driving and other forms of transit if BRT made their commute faster.

The survey was funded by the Rockefeller Foundation (disclosure: Streetsblog Chicago receives funding from Rockefeller) and conducted by Global Strategy Group. Pollsters reached 500 Chicagoans via telephone between May 30 and June 5, with representative samples of registered voters by geography, gender, age and ethnicity. The margin of error is ±4.4 percent.

A few other interesting findings: 89 percent said they believe better public transportation can give a shot in the arm to the economy and help create jobs; 71 percent said it’s important to invest in better transit; and 71 percent said they’d be willing to spend an extra ten cents a day for improved public transportation options that would shorten their commutes.

“Foremost, the survey shows that there’s a lot of support for bus rapid transit,” said Benjamin de la Peña, associate director of the Rockefeller Foundation. “Secondly, it shows that people understand that public transportation is directly related to growing the economy and creating jobs.”

It’s clear that many Chicagoans want to improve the city’s transit network by building BRT on Ashland, but it’s important that these voices be heard. Contact your alderman and sign Active Trans’ petition to express your support for the CTA’s plan.