Capdiamont\’s Weblog

SR Democrat: Transit poll
Saturday 19 Jan 2008, 10:31
Filed under: NCRA, Railroad | Tags:

Survey still shows strong support for rail despite economy
Supporters of the proposed SMART commuter rail line can take comfort in a recent poll on whether Sonoma County residents still support creating a rail alternative to highway driving. Clearly they do.


Although residents have concerns about the economy and the impact of increased taxes, three out of every four Sonoma County residents still support a quarter-cent sales tax to fund a new commuter train through Sonoma and Marin counties.

The survey commissioned by the Sonoma County Transportation Authority showed 77 percent would support a rail tax while 21 percent would oppose it. Only 1 percent said they were unsure or had no opinion. The phone survey, conducted in early December by Sacramento-based pollster Jim Moore, had a margin of error of 4.4 percent.

The results are similar to the outcome from the sales tax measure of 2006 when nearly 70 percent of Sonoma County residents voted in favor of a quarter-cent tax for the SMART (Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit) train. But the measure failed because it required a two-thirds majority of all the North Bay — and it only mustered 57 percent in Marin County.

That’s the big unknown here. The poll only covers Sonoma County residents. The success of a commuter rail line, once again, will depend on Marin voters.

Nonetheless, these results should come as no surprise. The poll reflects a strong public support for rail in a time of growing concern about climate change. The public understands this, even if sometimes elected officials don’t.

Seventy-one percent of those surveyed listed “reducing traffic congestion” in Sonoma County as a high priority while 81 percent listed “reducing dependence on foreign oil” as a high priority. Only “reducing crime and gang activity” (82 percent) came in with a higher rating.

Supporters of the sales-tax measure will still have their work cut out for them if they put another quarter-cent sales tax measure on the November ballot as planned. The survey suggests some reluctance by Sonoma County voters to accept new taxes, something that may grow if the economy sours.

Even so, a strong majority of residents are willing to tax themselves to see this rail line built. Given that, there’s nothing here that should discourage officials from moving forward with a rail tax measure this fall — and getting this done.


1 Comment

This poll was done by the same guy (Moore) who did the poll for Measure R. It was supposed to get 70% in Marin and ended up at 57%.

This is all about manipulating the public into thinking that the next SMART measure will easily pass. It won’t. It will lose, just like all the others.

Consider one factor: how do tax measures fare in the middle of a recession? And they have no votes to lose, because they lost the last one.

Comment by Mistsy

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