MBTA problems not affecting Baker popularity

Poll indicates governor not held responsible

GOV. CHARLIE BAKER’S popularity is not being affected by the ongoing problems at the MBTA, according to a new poll.

The survey of 987 likely voters indicates 67 percent view Baker favorably, much higher than President Biden (49 percent) and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Maura Healey (44 percent).

Specifically on transportation, Baker gets pretty high marks. Asked how much they approve or disapprove of the governor’s handling of transportation, 11 percent said they strongly approve and 53 percent said they somewhat approve, compared to 22 percent that somewhat disapprove and 9 percent that strongly disapprove.

Yet voters don’t seem to be that enthusiastic about the state of transportation in Massachusetts. The poll indicates 78 percent believe the condition of transportation in Massachusetts (roads, bridges, cycling, walking, and public transportation) is either fair or poor, compared to just 21 percent that believe it is good or excellent.

Only 23 percent say the MBTA is better today than it was when Baker came into office in 2015, while 33 percent say it is worse and 31 percent say it’s the same.

Voters also favor replacing senior leadership at the MBTA (47 percent) and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (44 percent).

Voters approved of the one-month Orange Line shutdown, with 59 percent saying the inconvenience was worth it.

The online survey was conducted by the MassINC Polling Group between October 5 and October 15 and paid for by the Barr Foundation.

The poll indicated Question 1 on the ballot, which would steer income from an additional 4 percent tax on income over $1 million to transportation and education, is favored by a comfortable 59-31 margin.

Beyond that, however, the poll suggests little support for other transportation revenue-raising measures.The most popular answer (26 percent) for how to fund transportation improvements was “use existing funds/cut wasteful spending.” The second-most popular funding method was the so-called millionaire tax, at 17 percent.

By and large, the poll’s respondents were not heavy transit users. According to the survey, 75 percent of the respondent said they drive alone to work; 47 percent drive or ride with others; 42 percent walk; 22 percent  take a taxi, Uber , or Lyft; 20 percent take an MBTA subway or trolley, and 17 percent take a bus.