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Houston supports light rail

In theory, anyway, according to a poll taken by County Judge Robert Eckels. Eckels is no big fan of rail, but even when he tried to push the anti-rail viewpoint, the support was there:

The poll shows that 66 percent of Harris County voters support a regional light rail system, compared with 26 percent who oppose one.

The strongest proponents are those who live inside Loop 610, employed women and men under age 50.

More informative is Eckels’ attempt to test the strength of rail support.

Even after respondents were told that a rail system would be financed with money dedicated to roads and freeways, 52 percent supported rail compared to 40 percent who opposed it.

The rail survey has its flaws. Respondents included residents from throughout the county, a larger group than those inside the smaller Metro service area.

But Eckels is right when he concludes from the poll that “there is support for rail because there is frustration with our traffic congestion.”

“People want a solution, and they are willing to look at rail as a real option,” Eckels said.

As columnist Williams notes, this will not necessarily translate to success at the ballot box when the next referendum comes up. You can be sure that the anti-rail forces will be loud, well financed, and motivated to vote.

One thing that should be noted is that public transportation, in particular light rail, has support across the ideological spectrum. Paul Weyrich of the Free Congress Foundation is a big booster of light rail, for example. Given that the opposition to rail here is going to come almost exclusively from the right wing, perhaps proponents here ought to consider enlisting someone like Weyrich to help counter that.

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  1. etc. says:

    On an unrelated note, the Seattle Monorail, which you posted about previously, won its election by a slim margin.

  2. If you think Paul Weyrich is representative of anything but a handful of conservatives on transportation issues, you’re sadly mistaken. I never even hear his name mentioned outside of the light rail issue anymore, and usually it comes from conservatives griping over his overt activism on the issue.

    It’s like social conservatives trotting out pro-life liberals — it doesn’t convince much of anybody, and creates a lot more bad blood than existed before.