BONUS EPISODE: Pollster explores commuter rail survey

Richard Parr, the research director of the MassINC Polling Group, said he was surprised at the strong support in a statewide, online poll for regional rail and a number of other ambitious transportation initiatives, including an underground rail link connecting North and South Stations. The most popular initiative was transitioning the commuter rail fleet from diesel to electric power. The poll also found support for a number of initiatives to fund regional rail, including a surtax on millionaires, proceeds from putting a price on the carbon content of automobile fuels, and regional ballot questions. Jim Aloisi and Josh Fairchild of TransitMatters, who interviewed Parr, pointed out that the poll numbers indicated less support for hikes in more straightforward taxes such as the gas tax. Aloisi, for example, noted more than two-thirds of those polled opposed raising the gas tax to pay for regional rail while roughly the same percentage were open to funding regional rail by putting a price on the carbon in auto fuels. Aloisi said those two numbers are inconsistent because the impact on drivers is basically the same. What does it mean? “People want everything and they want someone else to pay for it,” Aloisi said.