Understanding public attitudes towards transit at statewide and local geographies
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This report examines public sentiment towards transit at statewide and local geographies using results from the 2014 Texas Transportation Poll. The 2014 Texas Transportation Poll, conducted by researchers at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, asked the following open-ended question of Texans: "what is the most significant transportation issue affecting you personally in your region?" The question elicited over 3,000 independent responses, over 10 percent of which made reference to public transportation. Many of these comments about public transportation were from respondents in the Austin region, and expressed support for additional or improved public transit services. Paradoxically, in the fall of 2014, residents of Austin voted down a bond proposal that would have created an urban rail line and funded road improvements. This study explores the use of qualitative analysis to extract meaningful insights from public comments, using the comments received from the Texas Transportation Poll to explain the discrepancy between opinions expressed in the poll and voting behavior during the Austin urban rail proposal and to assess the usefulness and limitations of qualitative analysis on open-ended opinion data. Findings from this analysis reveal opportunities for improving public support of public transit initiatives by understanding and incorporating public sentiment at the state and local level and contribute to a new way for transportation agencies to interact with and understand the travel needs of their constituents in the 21st century.