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Public opinion and policy research


This research on public opinion about transportation policy focuses on three core areas. First, this research examines how support for transportation policies and investments are shaped by partisan ideals. Results from this research suggest that in an increasingly partisan society, planners should: recognize transportation as a partisan issue; work to shift beliefs about the possibility of change with tools such as tactical urbanism and demonstration pilots; and provide clear public messaging to inform policy preferences.

Second, this project examines whether we can shift public support for transportation reform by providing more information. We used an online survey experiment to first assess knowledge about induced demand and the transportation funding shortfall and then test whether a short informational text can shift policy preferences on these topics. We find that the experiment worked in the short term, decreasing support for road building and increasing support for raising the gas tax, but that support returned to pre-experiment levels six months later.

The third leg of this research is ongoing and examines the transportation policy preferences and views of transportation planning and engineering students and compares these to the public.  

Figure shows the role that partisanship plays in transportation policy preferences

Partisanship and transportation policy preferences. Source: Political Partisanship and Transportation Reform published in JAPA. [open access link]


Chart showing results of survey expeirment

Support for the congestion and transportation finance policy status quo. Source: Can information increase support for transportation reform? Results from an experiment published in Transportation. [non-paywalled version]

Related publications


Political Partisanship and Transportation Reform

Klein, N., K. Ralph, C. Thigpen, and A. Brown. (2022). “Political Partisanship and Transportation Reform.” Journal of the American Planning Association 88 (2): 163–78.

[open access]

Can Information Increase Support for Transportation Reform? Results from an Experiment

Thigpen, C., K. Ralph, N. Klein, and A. Brown. 2022. “Can Information Increase Support for Transportation Reform? Results from an Experiment.” Transportation,

[non-paywalled version]


Public Support for Transport Reform: Does It Matter If We 'Reduce Driving’ or ‘Shift Trips’?

Ralph, K., N. Klein, C. Thigpen, and A. Brown. (2021). “Public Support for Transport Reform: Does It Matter If We ‘Reduce Driving’ or ‘Shift Trips’?” Findings, November, 29897.

[open access]


Project Team,

Nicholas Klein (Director and main project lead), Kelcie Ralph (Rutgers), Anne Brown (University of Oregon), Calvin Thigpen (Lime, Inc.).


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