Surprising Support for More Mass Transit in Houston

A survey tracking Houstonian opinions for three decades has found that the most striking change in the car-centric city is an embrace of an urban lifestyle led by support for more mass transit options and less reliance on cars, reports Jeannie Kever.

For over thirty years, the Kinder Houston Area Survey has followed the attitudes of its residents. With its first time systematic expansion to the 10-county metropolitan area this year, the survey included 1,610 interviews with 496 people from outside of Harris County. The survey reflects attitudes ranging from topics on the economy, traffic, diversity, and citizenship. But the most surprising result came from how people felt about mass transit and mobility.

Up from 39 percent in 2010, "51 percent said they would choose a smaller home within walking distance of workplaces and shops, rather than a single-family home with a big yard, which required driving almost everywhere they wanted to go." Stephen Klineberg, the creator of the survey and co-director of the Kinder Institute for Urban Research, credits the change to the increase in new and refurbished residential buildings in midtown and downtown areas, revitalization in suburban developments that have integrated residential with retail space, and a growth in aggravation towards traffic congestion, writes Kever.

"People in Harris County and in the surrounding counties offered support for mass transit, including a majority who said they would prefer the current diversion of transit taxes for street, drainage and landscaping projects be spent instead on transit." Klineberg expects the shift towards more mass transit support will continue as people favor mobility over car dependency.

Full Story: Mass transit gains momentum in Houston Area Survey

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