Poll: Metro Atlanta Voters Warm to Transit

Slim margin in favor of transit-heavy transport referendum

A shift in attitude toward transit among metro Atlanta voters, including in counties that traditionally oppose MARTA, such as Gwinnett and Cobb, could be pivotal in whether next year's transportation sales tax referendum passes, according to a new poll.

Underlying issues including concerns about crime and whether the government can be trusted to oversee the work exist, according to a poll of 625 registered voters that Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc. conducted for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News. But they don't seem to be as big a problem as they may have been in the past.

Transportation referendums will be held in each of 12 regions across the state next year, most notably in metro Atlanta. There, voters in 10 counties will be asked to approve a 10-year, 1-cent sales tax. It is expected to raise $7.2 billion, $6.1 billion of which is to be spent on projects of regional significance.

Overall, the poll shows 51% of metro voters would vote for the referendum if it were held today. An additional 13% were undecided. In Cobb and Gwinnett counties alone, at least 48% were in support, with an additional 10% undecided.

A deeper look at the numbers, however, shows an increasing recognition of the price of inaction.

Overwhelmingly, 91% of voters said it was important to address the region's transportation problems to improve its quality of life and economic future. Additionally, 67% said the region's traffic congestion is deteriorating their quality of life. And 82% said it was important to do more to encourage everyone to commute to work by bus or train.

(More on Atlanta transit poll . . . )