Drivers, transit riders, and people who walk and bike said reliability influences their travel choices the most

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Reliability is the main factor that influences how people in the region make their transportation choices.

About the Visualize 2045 public opinion survey

Last summer, the TPB conducted a public input survey to gather general attitudes and opinions about transportation in the region. The survey’s purpose was to better understand what factors influence people’s travel choices, what affects their travel experiences, and what they would like to see in the future. The results will be used to inform the TPB’s planning process and long-range planning efforts, including Visualize 2045 as well as future plan updates.

The public input survey used two different sampling approaches. One was a random sample of adults living in households in the region. TPB staff mailed these households invitations to respond to questions using an online survey. This sample was designed to be geographically representative of the region.

The second sample was an open survey that used public outreach strategies to reach out to a broad audience. We used social media to publicize the survey effort and distributed postcards at Metro stations and public spaces to give everyone in the region a chance to comment on the region’s transportation system. While statistically valid conclusions could not be made from the open survey, the responses we received provide valuable insights and a wealth of ideas and concerns to consider in the region’s long-range planning efforts.

RELATED: Visualize 2045 outreach: Here’s what we did over the summer

In October we shared some initial takeaways that combined both samples. Over the last few months TPB staff analyzed the random sample for some general observations about people’s opinions on the region’s transportation system.

Here are some general findings from the geographically representative sample:

Reliability is the most important factor for people’s transportation choices

Survey respondents were asked what transportation factors have the greatest impact on their travel decisions. They could choose up to two factors.

We asked respondents which factors have the greatest influence on their travel choices. (TPB)

The survey results showed that reliability was the most important factor. 65 percent of respondents chose reliability as a factor. This shows that people in the region want to be able to rely on their daily travel to get them where they are going on time and without unexpected delays.

65 percent of respondents chose reliability as a factor. (TPB)

Reliability rose to the top among all respondents whether they drive, bike, walk, or ride transit. When analyzed by travel mode, reliability was the top priority among drivers, train riders, bus riders, and pedestrians and bicyclists. Bus and train riders chose affordability more than people who used other modes. People who drive indicated travel time as a key factor more than others, while people who walk and bike prioritized travel options more than other modes.

Reliability was also the most picked factor whether respondents drove, rode transit, walked, or biked. (TPB)

Reliability was also the top priority for people no matter where they live in the region. The top three factors for all residents were reliability, travel time, and affordability. However, regional core residents who live in the District of Columbia, Alexandria, and Arlington prioritized travel options more than suburban residents in Maryland and Virginia.

Another key finding is that suburban residents were more likely to choose travel time as a priority than residents living in the regional core, suggesting the impact of longer commutes particularly for residents living in the outer suburbs.

Reliability also rose to the top across regional sub areas. The regional core consists of the District of Columbia, Arlington, and Alexandria. Inner suburbs are Montgomery, Prince George’s , Fairfax County, Fairfax City, and Falls Church. Outer suburbs are Charles, Prince William, Manassas, Manassas Park, Frederick, Loudoun, and the urbanized area of Fauquier. (TPB)

Next steps

TPB staff will present findings to the TPB at its April 18 meeting. Staff will pull together the data for a report on these and other findings from the survey. These outreach efforts will also be included as part of Visualize 2045. The thousands of comments from both samples will also serve as a database of information about what people in the region think about the transportation system that can be used over time to design future public participation efforts and inform the future long-range planning efforts.

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