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Public Transit on the Nov. 8 Ballot; Record Amount of Funds at Stake

In addition to selecting the next president of the United States, one-third of the Senate and all 435 members of the House of Representatives, voters throughout the nation will consider dozens of public transit funding measures when they go to the polls on Nov. 8.

This year is shaping up to be the largest ever in terms of the amount of funds in measures before voters nationwide. Here are some of the major initiatives facing voters.

The Atlanta City Council approved placement of several major Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid ­Transit Authority projects on the ballot, some funded by a half-cent sales tax levy that would raise an estimated $2.5 billion over the next 40 years.

Voters in the three Washington State counties served by Sound Transit will consider “Sound Transit 3” (ST3), which includes construction of 62 miles of new light rail, expedited new BRT service and extension of Sounder commuter rail. The ST3 plan’s $53.8 billion in investments would be funded through new voter-approved sales, property and state motor vehicle excise taxes, with estimated additional $200 annual or $17 monthly costs for a typical adult in the Sound Transit district.

Los Angeles Metro’s “Los Angeles Traffic Improvement Plan” would raise the countywide sales tax by one-half cent and continue the existing Measure R half-cent sales tax beyond its expiration date of 2039. It would result in more than $120 billion over 40 years; about 60 percent would go to public transit. Both taxes would remain active until voters decided to end them.

A 0.25 percent income tax referendum in Marion County, IN, which includes Indianapolis, would finance additional IndyGo service, including three BRT lines, under a new state law that allows counties to establish individual public transit plans through ballot referendums.

A measure proposed by the San Diego Association of Governments would raise sales taxes by one-half cent to fund additional commuter rail, buses and road improvements around the county, in addition to the existing half-cent TransNet sales tax. If voters approve the tax increase, it will raise an estimated $18 ­billion over 40 years toward a long-term plan that includes surface rail and a skyway gondola system.

Voters in four Detroit-area counties—Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Wash­tenaw—will consider a 1.2-mill property tax that would raise $2.9 million over the next 20 years for the Southeast Michigan Regional Transit Authority, including regional BRT and commuter rail between Detroit and Ann Arbor.

Broward County (FL) Commissioners have placed two questions on the ballot regarding Broward County Transit projects, each asking for a half-cent sales tax increase over 30 years. The questions are “interlocked,” meaning that if ­voters approve only one of the requests, both will fail. One question would finance countywide transportation projects and the other would provide a surtax to fund municipal infrastructure projects at the request of cities in the county. A one-cent sales tax would raise an estimated $310 million in the first full year and $12.4 billion over the life of the measure.

The ballot in California’s San Francisco, Alameda and Contra Costa counties will include a $3.5 billion bond measure approved by the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District board for capital improvements. This measure would increase homeowners’ property tax bills between $35 and $55 each year for the 40-year life of the bond program, depending on the assessed valuation (not market price) of their properties.

The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), San Jose, CA, has approved a ballot measure calling for a half-cent, 30-year sales tax to fund transportation projects including BART expansion from San Jose to Santa Clara, Caltrain corridor capacity improvements and expansion of bus services to underserved and transit-dependent populations throughout the county.

For a more comprehensive list, including those specific for individual counties and communities, visit the Center for Transportation Excellence website.
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