Understanding Henry County’s support for public transit

Stock photo of a commuter rail train (AJC photo)

The Atlanta Regional Commission published their 2019 edition of Metro Atlanta Speaks, an annual survey conducted in partnership with Kennesaw State University, last week. While it’s always good to learn what metro Atlanta residents consider the biggest problem facing the region (transportation six years out of seven since the survey began) and what Henry County residents consider the biggest issue (crime closely followed by transportation), its also valuable to deep dive into the data collected.

For reference, the 2019 MAS survey polled 5,450 people across the 13-county metro area. Within Henry County, the survey polled 250 people. Metro Atlanta Speaks is statistically valid with a margin of error of plus or minus 1.3% for the region, and plus or minus 3.8% to 7% for individual counties.

When asked “what’s the best long-term solution to traffic?” a plurality of respondents in the region selected expand public transit (47.8%), compared to 28.8% selected improve roads and highways. In Henry County, residents expressed almost the opposite. 46.1% selected roadway improvements as the best option, more than any other county, and 33.2% selected public transit.

Another transit-related question asks respondents about the importance of public transit to the region, with possible answers including very important, somewhat important, or not important at all. Across the region, 92.8% of survey takers answered either very important or somewhat important. Within Henry County, that number falls to 90.1%, a minor decrease.

A final transit question gauges support for increased taxes to fund transit operations and expansion. Within the 13-county region, 46% expressed a favorable position towards additional taxes for transit, down from a majority (50.9%) in 2017. In Henry County, 39.5% of respondents were favorable to a transit tax while our neighbors in Butts County showed the lowest support in the region at 26.8%.

Side note: Henry County had the most respondents select “human services for people in need” as the biggest problem facing residents in metro Atlanta (16.2% compared to 8.7% in the region as a whole). I would be interested in hearing people’s comments on what that may represent and how we could improve on our Facebook page.

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