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Poll: 1 in 4 in Boston Area Considered Leaving Over Traffic & Transit Problems

Boston area drivers spent, on average, 164 hours caught in traffic last year according to INRIX report poll, equivalent to a whole month of workdays.

The big majority of Mass workers experience some level of frustration and anger with their daily commutes, according to new polling that suggests residents view the state transportation system as one in urgent need of improvement.

About 1/4 of Greater Boston area residents have considered moving to another state due to frustration with their commute. Voters also generally support state policy makers who want to raise more revenue to address the problem, though it’s unclear who they think should pay.

“There can only be one conclusion from this poll: The patient doesn’t need a Band-Aid; the patient needs surgery,” Jesse Mermell, president of the Alliance for Business Leadership, said in a statement.

“In order to ensure the commonwealth’s future economic competitiveness, solutions to this problem must be comprehensive, equitable, and implemented quickly,” Mermell said.

  • 60% said action is “urgently needed” to improve the state’s transportation system compared to the 21% that said they thought the system was working “pretty well.”
  • 65% said doing something to address the high cost of housing should also be a priority for policy makers, ranking it behind education and job creation, but ahead of transportation on their priority list.
  • 56% percent of those surveyed said their commute to work or school was 30 minutes or less, while 11 percent said they commuted between 45 minutes to an hour each way and 7 percent said they had a commuted longer than an hour one-way.
  • 67% percent of voters said they had changed their schedules to avoid the worst travel times and 63 percent had become angry or frustrated by delays and traffic, including more than a third that reported being late for medical appointments, daycare pickups or work.
  • 30% of full-time employees reported considering looking for a new job
  • 23% said they’d considered leaving the area.

The survey done by the MassINC Polling Group reinforces the perceptions of traffic and commuting in Greater Boston that have fueled a years-long debate on Beacon Hill about what to do about the condition of the state’s infrastructure and public transit.

The polling found that 38% of voters believe it has gotten harder over the last five years to move around the part of the state where they live, and 80 percent support the general idea of the state raising new money to spend on roads, bridges and public transit.

Users of public transit were more likely than drivers to report becoming stressed or angry by their commutes, being late for work or needing to leave early or later to avoid peak travel times, and to having considered changing jobs or moving because of their commutes.

MassINC did not survey voter opinions on specific tax increases, but did find at least 80% support for off-peak toll discounts and increasing the frequency of commuter rail trains running to and from Boston to every 15 to 30 minutes “throughout the day, at night, and on weekends.”

The poll did sample the opinions of 1,200 voters in an online survey from March 15 through March 25. The survey was sponsored by the Barr Foundation and designed with input from a steering committee of policy experts, transportation planners and business leaders, according to MassINC.

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