As if the recent Town Halls never happened, TSPLOST rail supporters and multiple county officials at the highest level continue to talk of support for rail beyond 60 percent.
The claim is based on a survey conducted by UGA’s Survey Center as part of creation of the federal and state-mandated Cobb County Comprehensive Transportation Plan (CTP).
The survey covered many topics related to transportation, but the 60 percent claim is based on a series of two questions.
The first question:
We often have to decide priorities based on limited resources. Which is more important to you, building more roadways or improving the public transit system?
Building more roadways (chosen by 32 percent)
Improving the public transit system (chosen by 54 percent)
The next question was asked only of those that chose option 2 (54 percent of total respondents):
I prefer to improve the public transit system through:
Improving the local bus transit system (21 percent)
Adding rail transit service within the county and connecting to MARTA (62 percent)
Adding streetcar/trolley circulators in regional business districts (11 percent)
Other (5 percent)
The 62 percent doesn’t refer to 62 percent of respondents, but 62 percent of those that answered “transit” to the first question.
Doing the math (54 x .62), we discover that only 33.48 percent of poll respondents answered “adding rail transit service within the county and connecting to MARTA.”
The two questions are “combined” to produce the claim that “62 percent prefer a rail investment.”
The claim is false.
Another trick being played by TSPLOST proponents is use of online surveys such as Survey Monkey.
Recently, the Cobb Chamber conducted an online survey using Survey Monkey as part of their CobbEDGE initiative. The online survey closed July 11.
At the time, Chamber COO Deming Bass wrote to Chamber members, “The goal is to hear your thoughts on Cobb County’s competitiveness. The survey asks you to rate different elements of the area’s business climate, education system, infrastructure, quality of life and economy.”
James J Bason, PhD, Director of UGA Survey Center and author of study linked above recently wrote of the CobbEDGE Survey Monkey initiative:
“Regarding the Chamber method of gathering community input, what they are doing is a convenience sample, so they cannot extrapolate to the general community with known precision (e.g. they can’t speak about a sampling error).
That doesn’t necessarily mean the data don’t have some value, it is just that the data they do have are the views of THOSE PEOPLE WHO CHOSE TO VISIT THE WEB SITE AND COMPLETE THE SURVEY.
They cannot say these data are representative of the community because probability sampling was not used to cover the entire population.”
The TSPLOST media campaign is beginning to heat up.
Will more numbers be cooked?