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Transportation Remains Region’s Top Concern, According to 2016 Metro Atlanta Speaks Survey

Posted on: Oct 28, 2016

Contact: Jim Jaquish
Phone: 404.463.3194

(ATLANTA – Oct 28, 2016)

Transportation remains metro Atlanta’s top concern, according to the Atlanta Regional Commission’s (ARC) fourth annual Metro Atlanta Speaks public opinion survey, which was released today during the agency’s State of the Region breakfast.

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.

“Metro Atlanta Speaks helps ARC and other decision-makers better understand this complex, fast-growing region,” said Doug Hooker, ARC executive director. “In its fourth year, we’re starting to see some fascinating trends that offer even deeper insights.”

Metro Atlanta’s improving economy was reflected in this year’s survey. Nearly half of respondents said job opportunities in the region are “excellent” or “good” – up from about one in three in 2013. And just 12 percent of residents said the economy was the region’s biggest problem, compared to 24 percent in 2013.

However, the survey showed that many residents face financial difficulties.

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 Ginneh Baugh, Associate Vice President of Strategy and Knowledge Development at United Way of Greater Atlanta. “This is not an isolated problem. Many families are still walking a financial tightrope, and poverty exists across the Greater Atlanta Region. The Metro Atlanta Speaks poll provides a greater understanding of the challenges facing our communities and helps us to direct the work needed to ensure that every individual and family can thrive.”

Other key findings from this year’s survey include:

  • Support for public transit is strong, with 92 percent of respondents saying improving public transit is “very important” or “somewhat important” to metro Atlanta’s future.
  • 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.
  • About 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.
  • 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 additional information about the 2016 survey, including county level results, please visit

The 2016 Metro Atlanta Speaks poll surveyed residents in Butts, Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, Coweta, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry, Paulding and Rockdale counties.

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