Poll Shows Clark County Area Voters Widely Oppose Taxes or Fees to Pay for Light Rail

Contact: John Barnes
206-937-9691
jbarnes [at] washingtonpolicy [dot] org

Seattle – Washington Policy Center has released the results of a poll asking likely voters within the C-TRAN district about light rail, how to pay for it and Proposition 1, which is on the ballot this November.

The poll revealed the following key findings:

Most Cost Effective Public Transit?  Buses are perceived to be the most cost effective public transit between Vancouver and Portland (by 45%), while light rail is perceived to be the most cost effective by only 34%.  Another 4% perceive other options to be most effective and 17% had no opinion.

Taxes for Light Rail?  There is wide opposition to raising taxes for a new light rail system from Vancouver to Portland; 66% oppose and 28% support raising the sales tax for a new light rail system between the cities and 57% oppose any type of tax or fee to pay for light rail, while only 34% are supportive. 

Public Vote to Extend Light Rail?  There is widespread support to have a public vote on whether to extend Portland’s light rail system to Vancouver. Fully 87% of voters overall favor a vote.

Proposition One.  The proposition is favored by 48%, opposed by 42% and 10% are undecided.  With a large segment of respondents still undecided and the survey’s margin of error, it is not possible to gauge the outcome of next month’s vote.  

Washington Policy Center (WPC) is a non-partisan independent policy research organization with offices in Seattle, Olympia, and Eastern Washington. WPC has been active on the light rail issue in the Clark County region and just released a Citizens' Guide to Clark County Proposition 1 (Vancouver Light Rail).

Topline survey results:

1. Which do you think is the most cost-effective public transit between Vancouver and Portland?

  • buses 45%
  • a light rail train 34%
  • other 4%
  • don’t know 17%

2. Do you support or oppose raising the sales tax for a new light rail system from Vancouver to Portland? IF SUPPORT/OPPOSE: Is that strongly support/oppose or somewhat support/oppose?

  • strongly support 10%
  • somewhat support 18%
  • Total support 28%
  • don’t know 6%
  • Total oppose 66%
  • somewhat oppose 16%
  • strongly oppose 50%

3. Do you support or oppose any type of tax or fee to pay for light rail from Vancouver to Portland? IF SUPPORT/OPPOSE: Is that strongly support/oppose or somewhat support/oppose?

  • strongly support 12%
  • somewhat support 22%
  • Total support 34%
  • don’t know 8%
  • Total oppose 57%
  • somewhat oppose 13%
  • strongly oppose 45%

4. Should taxpayers in Washington State have the opportunity to vote on whether to extend Portland’s light rail system to Vancouver, or not?

  • yes, should have the opportunity to vote 87%
  • don’t know 4%
  • not, should not have the opportunity to vote 9%

5. Now I want to ask you about Proposition One, which will be on the ballot in November. Proposition One will increase the sales and use tax by one-tenth of a percent, or one penny on a ten-dollar purchase, to fund the C-TRAN share of the maintenance and operations costs of the Columbia River Crossing Project, light rail extension between the Expo Center and Clark Park and Ride, and the local capital share and operations and maintenance costs of the Fourth Plain Boulevard Bus Rapid Transit project. Should this proposition be approved or rejected?

  • approved 48%
  • don’t know 10%
  • rejected 42%

6. What is your approximate age, please?

  • 18-34 20%
  • 35-44 16%
  • 45-54 18%
  • 55-59 13%
  • 60-64 12%
  • 65+ 21%
  • NA 1%

7. In politics today, do you consider yourself a,

  • Republican 30%
  • Democrat 32%
  • Independent 27%
  • something else 9%
  • don’t know 2%

8. Gender

  • male 47%
  • female 53%

Survey Methodology.  The survey was conducted by Moore Information by telephone using live interviewers on October 6-7, 2012 among a representative sample of 400 likely voters in the C-TRAN District.  Potential sampling error is plus or minus 5% at the 95% confidence level.