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Transportation Tops List of Region’s Concerns for Third Straight Year, Metro Atlanta Speaks Survey Shows

Posted on: Oct 28, 2016

Metro Atlanta Speaks logoEach year, the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC), with our community partners, conducts a survey to take the pulse of metro Atlanta residents and help guide the region’s planning and decision-making.

The Metro Atlanta Speaks survey is the largest of its kind in our region, offering a statistically valid snapshot of residents’ views on a range of critical issues, across 13 counties and the City of Atlanta.

This year’s Metro Atlanta Speaks survey is our fourth, and we’re starting to see some fascinating trends that offer even deeper insights. Highlights of this year’s results are below. You can also explore the full results using the Metro Atlanta Speaks data dashboard.

Transportation remains metro Atlanta’s top concern

Chart - Biggest Problem Facing Metro Atlanta
Chart – Biggest Problem Facing Metro Atlanta

According to the survey, 25 percent of respondents said transportation was the biggest problem facing the Atlanta region, the third straight year this topic topped the list of residents’ concerns.

A question added to this year’s survey sheds light on the region’s challenge: Nearly 1 in 3 respondents said they frequently lacked the transportation to get where they need to go.

Support for public transit remains strong, with 92 percent of respondents saying improving public transit is “very important” or “somewhat important” to metro Atlanta’s future.

And 43 percent of respondents said expanding public transit is the best long-term solution to the region’s traffic problems, while 32 percent preferred improving roads and highways.

Metro Atlanta’s improving economy was reflected in this year’s survey

Chart – Survey respondents who said the economy was the biggest problem facing metro Atlanta
Chart – Survey respondents who said the economy was the biggest problem facing metro Atlanta

Nearly half of respondents said job opportunities in the region are “excellent” or “good” – up from 36 percent in 2013.

And just 12 percent of residents said the economy was the region’s biggest problem, compared to 24 percent in 2013.

However, many residents still face financial difficulties

New questions about financial stability make it clear that not everyone in the Atlanta region is benefitting from the improved economy.

Only half of respondents said they could pay for a $400 emergency right away, with cash, check or debit card. About 14 percent said would not be able to pay at all, while an additional 6 percent said they’d have to sell or pawn something.

And nearly one in five residents said they sometimes skipped meals or reduced portion sizes because of a lack of money.

“While our economy is improving overall, this survey makes it clear that not everyone is benefitting,” said Mike Alexander, director of ARC’s Center of Livable Communities. “This is not an isolated problem. Poverty exists across metro Atlanta, from the region’s core to the suburbs. Metro Atlanta Speaks provides a greater understanding of the challenges facing our region.”

Graphic: How metro Atlanta residents would pay for a $400 financial emergency
Graphic: How metro Atlanta residents would pay for a $400 financial emergency

Other key findings from this year’s survey:

illustrationsAbout 23 percent of those surveyed said crime was the biggest issue facing the region, up sharply from 17 percent in 2015 and 14 percent in 2014. However, 65 percent of respondents said they feel safe in their own communities, up from 60 percent last year.

Metro Atlanta residents are generally upbeat about where they live, with 66 percent of respondents rating the region as a good or excellent place to live and 79 percent rating their neighborhood as good or excellent place to live.

And 35 percent of those surveyed said life will be better in metro Atlanta in 3-4 years, up from 28 percent in 2013.

The 2016 survey, conducted by Kennesaw State University’s A.L. Burruss Institute of Public Service and Research, asked questions of more than 5,400 people across 13 counties about key quality-of-life issues. The survey is statistically valid for each county and the City of Atlanta, with a margin of error of 1.3 percent for the 13-county region as a whole and 4 percent to 7 percent for the individual jurisdictions.

Supporters of the 2016 Metro Atlanta Speaks survey are the United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta, The Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta, MARTA, the Metro Atlanta Chamber, the North Fulton Community Improvement District, Invest Atlanta, Partnership Gwinnett and the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce.

For more results from the 2016 survey, please visit

NOTICE: Gov. Brian Kemp has extended a public health emergency declaration and a statewide shelter-in-place order for older adults and medically fragile residents through June 12.

The Atlanta Regional Commission office at 229 Peachtree Street, NE Atlanta, is closed to the public until further notice. All employees are working remotely and conducting business operations. ARC employees can be contacted directly during normal business hours. However, if you need immediate assistance call 404-463-3100.

If you are seeking resources for older persons and individuals with disabilities, contact us at404-463-3333 or visit

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