New Public Policy Survey: Californians and Transportation

The Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) has announced findings from its recent statewide survey on Californians and Transportation.

Established in 1994, PPIC conducts independent, nonpartisan research on major economic, social, and political issues affecting California.

Here are the major findings of the survey, with a particular emphasis on the responses of Southern Californians —

  • Californians view traffic congestion as a big problem in most regions
    The majority of Californians (58%) say traffic congestion on freeways and major roads is a big problem in their region, consistent with survey findings from a decade ago—64% in July 2006. In Southern California, residents are most likely to see traffic congestion as a big problem in Los Angeles County (73%) and the Inland Empire and Orange/San Diego Counties (62% each).


  • Two-thirds of Californians commute by driving alone
    Most working Californians (68%) say they usually commute by driving alone—again about the same as in July 2006 (70%). Across Southern California regions, Los Angeles County residents are the most likely (11%) to commute by public bus or transit. Whereas the overwhelming majority of residents in the Inland Empire and Orange/San Diego Counties (84% combined) either drive alone or carpool.


  • The majority of Californians say spending more on road, highway, and bridge maintenance is very important
    At least 60% of Californians across political parties and regions say that spending more money on California’s roads, highways, and bridges is very important for the future quality of life and economic vitality of the state. Among all adults, 62% say this is very important, compared to 53% in March 2015. Governor Brown has identified $57 billion of deferred maintenance needs in the state’s transportation infrastructure system. However, only 35% of Californians support Governor Brown’s budget proposal after hearing a description of his plan to fund infrastructure projects with a new vehicle fee and an increase in the state gasoline tax.
  • Public transit and freeways are top priorities for transportation funding
    When asked which surface transportation projects should be given top priority for additional state funding, Californians tend to say either public bus and transit (34%) or freeways and highways (33%). Fewer say local streets and roads (24%) or carpool lanes (6%). But there are regional differences: half of Inland Empire residents (51%) prioritize spending on freeways, in contrast to Los Angeles area residents who emphasize public transit (38%) over freeways (28%).


  • Most Californians prefer using the budget surplus or bonds to fund infrastructure
    When asked how they would increase current state funding for roads and infrastructure projects, a plurality of adults prefer to use only surplus budget funds (31%), and an additional 24% prefer to issue state bonds. Fewer say they prefer to increase vehicle registration fees (17%) or the state gasoline tax (13%). The preference for using surplus funds over issuing bonds is prevalent among residents of the Inland Empire (37% to 17%); Southern Californians in other regions are more evenly divided.


  • Majorities support a state bond and oppose local sales tax to fund transportation projects
    Sixty-one percent of adults across regions and 52% of likely voters say they would vote for a bond measure on the California state ballot to pay for surface transportation projects. Fewer than half of adults and likely voters say they would vote for an increase in their local sales tax to fund transportation projects, far short of the two-thirds majority required to pass. Support falls below 50% in each region.


SOURCE: PPIC Statewide Survey, May 2016.
Margin of error for all adults is ±3.3%. The margins of error for subgroups are larger.