News & Media
CFTE Express Vol. 13 No.1February 25, 2015
In This Issue …
- Transit Win in 2015
- Michigan Spotlight
- 2014 Wrap Up and 2015 Outlook
- New Starts/Small Starts
- 2015 TIC
- APTA Legislative Conference
First Transit Win in 2015!
The first ballot measure of 2015, in Sacramento, was overwhelmingly successful. Earlier this month, property owners in downtown Sacramento, CA, considered an advisory measure to build a new streetcar line through midtown and downtown Sacramento. The referendum was a month long mail-in election with property owners passing the measure by a vote of 66% - 34%. With the success of the advisory measure, all registered voters in downtown Sacramento will now consider a measure on May 5 to establish a street car funding district in downtown Sacramento.
The state of Michigan will consider 6 transit ballot referendums this year, more than any other state in 2015. While all six measures will be critical to the local communities that consider them, the Michigan statewide sales tax measure is crucial for future transit investments around the state. Coming before Michigan voters on May 5, the measure will amend the state constitutional to increase the state sales tax by 1%. The minor increase will raise an additional $1.3 billion for transportation improvements. Public transportation projects would receive $130 million (10%) of the funds raised, the maximum under the Michigan state constitution.
The large number of measures and Michigan’s past record of success are two more reasons the Transit Initiatives and Communities Conference (TIC) will be hosted in Grand Rapids, Michigan this year.
Sixteen Confirmed Elections in 2015
In 2014, voters in 18 states considered 61 transit ballot measures. While it was a down year, 2014 ballot measures still had a 69% success rate with 42 transit wins at the ballot box. Historically, transit measures have had a 71% success rate, but low voter turnout combined with other factors may have ultimately hurt the overall 2014 success rate. To learn more about the 2014 results, see our 2014 Transit Election Results and Trends presentation.
With 2014 in the rear view, the 2015 election season is in full swing. There are 16 confirmed ballot measures for 2015. Spread across North America, there are measures in Arizona (Phoenix), British Columbia (Vancouver), California (Sacramento and Sonoma County), and Michigan (Addison Township, Frenchtown Township, Kalamazoo, Monroe, Statewide, and Saginaw), and Washington (Seattle and Spokane). In addition to these measures, there will be a bond measure in Georgia (Atlanta), charter amendment measure in Texas (San Antonio), and an RTA participation measure in Massachusetts (Bourne). See the full election list here.
New Starts/Small Starts
On February 2, President Obama released his fiscal year (FY) 2016 budget request for funding the federal government. Within the budget request, the Federal Transit Administration’s New Starts/Small Starts grant program designated 54 projects to receive grants to improve and/or expand public transit.
Many of the grant awardees in the FY16 budget request include projects that are tied to transit ballot initiatives in 2015 and 2016. For example, Sound Transit in Seattle, WA will potentially go to the ballot in 2016 to raise local funds to extend their light rail line. If the measure is passed, the project will also receive federal funds from the New Starts/Small Starts program. Below is a full list of the FY16 recommended projects:
Register for the TIC 2015 Conference
The 2015 Transportation Initiatives and Communities Conference (TIC) will be held June 1-3, at the Amway Grand Hotel in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The city of Grand Rapids has enjoys a tremendously successful record of ballot measure success, including a 2011 measure that led to Michigan’s first BRT project, the silver line. The city boasts a lively walkable downtown and two time winner of the Beer City USA award.
This year’s conference includes a pre-conference grassroots workshop, three days of sessions, receptions, and tours of the Grand Rapids transit system and local pub scene. The full preliminary program is available online.
Registration is now open, with the early registration closing on March 31, 2015. The hotel discount ends April 30, 2015.
Register for the APTA Legislative Conference
The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) will hold its legislative conference on March 8-10, 2015 at the J.W. Marriott in Washington D.C. The legislative conference directs the industry’s advocacy effort and legislative strategy to the U.S. Congress and Administration; offers sessions with key members of Congress, Hill staff, Administration officials, and Washington opinion makers.