Voters Nationwide Approve 74 Percent of Transit Ballot Measures
The election has concluded, and the results are in from 31 out of 32 transit initiatives. In the face of difficult economic conditions, transit won big! Voters across the country demonstrated that they are willing to vote in favor of transit measures that will improve the quality of their lives–and increase their mobility choices.
Voters in 16 states approved 74 percent of public transit-related ballot measures on Nov. 4 (23 of 31; one measure is still outstanding, as discussed below), which authorized expenditures approximating $75 billion.
The largest measures approved were in Los Angeles County ($40 billion); Washington State ($17.8 billion in three counties); and California ($9.95 billion statewide for high-speed rail).
Measure R in Los Angeles County, which passed with 67.4 percent of the vote, invests $40 billion in comprehensive public transit and traffic relief efforts through a quarter-cent increase in the county’s sales tax. Statewide, California voters passed Proposition 1A, authorizing $9.95 billion in bonds for high-speed rail (52.3 to 47.7 percent).
Voters in the Puget Sound region of Washington State approved Proposition 1, which provides for a one-half percent increase in the local sales tax to support a $17.8 billion transit expansion package over 15 years. Fifty-three percent of voters in Honolulu approved an amendment to the city and county charter to establish a $3.7 billion commuter rail system. In Greensboro, NC, 59 percent of voters approved a bond measure providing $134 million for transportation projects. A statewide measure in
Rhode Island authorizing the state to issue $87.2 million in transportation bonds passed with 76.6 percent of the vote. The measure includes funds for commuter rail and the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority.
The vote on a measure in Santa Clara County, CA, was still too close to call at press time. This measure would enact a 30-year, one-eighth-cent sales tax for the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority for a San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District extension.
To see the outcome of all the initiatives, go to the Center for Transportation Excellence. Also, watch for the Nov. 17 issue of Passenger Transport for an in-depth look at the voting results.
APTA Congratulates President-Elect Obama
APTA President William W. Millar released this statement of congratulations to President-Elect Barack Obama and Vice President-Elect Joe Biden on Nov. 5:
"On behalf of the more than 1,500 members of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), I congratulate President-Elect Barack Obama on his historic win last night. APTA members stand ready to work with President-Elect Obama and Vice President-Elect Biden on revitalizing our economy; creating jobs; reducing our nation’s dependence on foreign oil; and combating climate change. Coming from Chicago, a city with a large public transportation system, President-Elect Obama
has seen firsthand the crucial role that public transportation has in creating jobs and economic development." He said the industry looks forward to working with President-Elect Obama and Vice President-Elect Biden who are strong advocates for public transportation.
Transition planning in the Obama Administration is already underway. As reported in The Washington Post: "Mortimer L. Downey [APTA member, PB Consult], who served as No. 2 in the Department of Transportation for eight years under [President] Clinton, is expected to take a lead role in transition planning for the department, according to a person close to the process. Downey served as the deputy in the department under both Rodney Slater and [Federico] Pena."
In the Media
Several stories this week focused on how vital public transportation is to community development and employment.
Light rail is important to office locations in Denver.
Editorial: Ohio voters extend a lifeline to transit.
A rail expert's trip from Austria to Phoenix.