"They have been scared by the economy," Gary Manross, of Fullerton-based Strategy Institute Research, told the agency.
The poll showed 63 percent of voters would support a half-cent sales tax increase to pay for the transportation improvements.The tax would need approval of two-thirds of voters under state law.
That means a 20-year, half-cent tax would likely go down to defeat if posed to voters in November unless there is a shift in sentiment between now and then.A quarter-cent tax could pass, although would not raise enough money to address all the county's needs, Manross
"It's a bad time to move forward with this.It would make more sense to keep educating the public and come back in 2003 or 2004 at the latest," he
Faced with vexing transportation issues that could be assisted by a local sales tax increase, the agency commissioned the poll of 1,200 residents to gauge support.
The poll showed 92 percent of Marin County residents view traffic congestion as a problem.
"People see it is a problem and they want it addressed and that plays in your favor," Manross said.
While a Cloverdale to San Rafael rail line didn't inspire those polled, a train delivering riders to a ferry into San Francisco fared better, Manross
Residents were also interested in using local sales tax dollars to leverage other state and federal funds, poll results showed.The poll also showed the chances of getting a tax hike approved by voters would improve if it were to be endorsed by such groups as the Sierra Club and the Marin Conservation League
The county has made efforts for more than a year to provide the public information about transit needs, and Manross
said similar efforts over the next year could result in approval in the future.
Agency officials said they would study the findings and plan their next step.