Despite the importance of public transport for urban vitality, social equity, and mobility, the discussions surrounding these topics have become heated ideological battles between liberals and conservatives in the United States, as in other countries. Conservatives, in particular, have exhibited anti-transit attitudes that have worked against the development of public transport.
Scholars note that political trust functions as a heuristic and its impact is felt more strongly among individuals who face ideological risks with respect to a given public policy. Based on several studies noting the relationships between political trust, ideology and policy attitudes, the study employs the pooled data of the 2010 and 2014 General Social Surveys. It finds that conservatives are negatively associated with supporting spending on public transport, but when contingent upon high levels of political trust, they become more supportive of it. The study discusses the potential of political trust as a mechanism to influence public policy discourses as well as certain methodological and substantive limitations.