News & Media
Vol. 8, No. 6July 09, 2010
In This Issue …
- Register Now for the Transit Funding Workshop
- Next Transit Elections Scheduled for August
- Major Transit Referendum in Hillsborough County FL
- Oahu City Council Places Transit Measure on the November Ballot
- Mineta Transportation Institute Releases Report
- DOT Announces $293 Million in New Transit Funding
- 2011 TIC Conference Heads to St. Louis MO
Washington Transit Funding Workshop
JOIN US IN SEATTLE ON AUGUST 5, 2010
The Center for Transportation Excellence and the American Public Transportation Association will be hosting a free half-day Transit Funding Workshop on August 5! CFTE is the premiere national organization for transportation ballot measure campaign training. Register today to attend interactive sessions covering best strategies, useful tips and lessons learned from those who have been to the ballot and back.
Who Should Attend?
· Public Officials
· Agency Representatives
· Transit Advocates
· Environmental Advocates
· Campaign Professionals
· Business Leaders
What will be covered?
· Building Campaign Platforms
· Organizing Broad Coalitions
· National Ballot Trends
· Marketing Tools
· Strategies for Utilizing Media
· Recent Case Studies
The Transit Funding Workshop is scheduled for Thursday, August 5 in Seattle, Washington from 1:30 - 5:45pm. The workshop is being held in conjunction with APTA's 2010 State Public Transit Partnership Conference. A preliminary program is available on our website. Free registration is required to attend the workshop. Registration for the "High Speed Rail on the Horizon" luncheon, to be held immediately before the workshop, can be included for a fee.
Please visit http://cfte.org/events/events_WAworkshop.asp to download the registration form. Completed forms can be faxed or emailed to CFTE.
Next Transit Elections Scheduled for August
VOTERS TO DECIDE ON TRANSIT FINANCING MEASURES
Voters in several Michigan counties will be considering property tax renewals to support local transit services on primary ballots this summer. On August 3, voters in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties will be asked to renew a 0.59-mill tax to support the SMART bus system. In 2006, 72 percent of voters approved the same renewal, providing about 42 percent of SMART's operating revenue. SMART is used by more than 14 million people in 75 communities each year.
Voters in St. Joseph County will also be asked on August 3 to renew a property tax for transit. The four-year, 0.33-mill tax was originally approved by voters in 2007. Without renewal it will expire next year, leaving the St. Joseph County Transportation Authority without 45 percent of its budget. The tax generates approximately $583, 000 a year.
On August 17, voters in Olympia, WA will be asked to consider a sales tax increase of two-tenths of a cent to support Intercity Transit. The sales tax rate is currently six-tenths of a cent. The last time voters approved an increase to the sales tax was in 2002 when it went from 0.3 percent to 0.6 percent. The first increase was used to cover funding lost when Initiative 695 replaced the motor vehicle excise tax with a $30 car tab fee. The latest increase is necessary to close budget gaps cause by decreasing sales tax revenue.
November Election Highlight
TRANSIT REFERENDUM IN HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FL
CFTE is monitoring more than 20 potential transportation measures for the November ballot. Some communities are asking voters for financing renewals or small tax increases for existing systems. Hillsborough County, FL will be asking voters to support a plan to make major transportation improvements for the region. Approved for the ballot in May, the referendum seeks to create a 1% sales surtax, with 75% of the revenue dedicated to transit and 25% to road and bridge repairs. The transit funding would be used to double bus service and build the first segments of a commuter rail system. Revenue would be placed in a dedicated trust fund to ensure that it does not get diverted to other projects. The tax is expected to bring in $160 million to $200 million annually by increasing the current sales tax rate from 7% to 8%.
Advocates are highlighting the importance of improving local transportation options now in order to prepare for a new high-speed rail line connecting Tampa with Orlando. As part of its commitment to establishing high-speed rail in the United States, the Obama Administration has recently approved $1.25 billion in federal funding for the Florida project. The referendum is supported by a wide variety of groups in the community including several local Chambers of Commerce, Tampa Bay Builders Association, Greater Tampa Association of Realtors, Sierra Club Tampa Bay, Florida Coalition of Rail Passengers and the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority.
Oahu Transit Measure on the November Ballot
VOTERS WILL DECIDE ON TRANSIT AUTHORITY
The Oahu City Council has decided to place a measure on the ballot this November asking voters whether the city should create a semiautonomous Public Transit Authority. If approved, the new transit authority would oversee Honolulu's planned $5 billion rail transit system. The new transit authority would operate independently from the City Council with a total of six members. The city council would appoint three members and the mayor would appoint the other three members.
It remains unclear if there is enough public support for the measure. Oahu voters dissolved the city's transit authority in 1996, after a previous rail transit proposal did not go forward. That was just six years after voters approved a charter amendment to set up the transit authority.
For more election info visit: www.cfte.org
Mineta Transportation Institute Releases Report
NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION TAX SURVEY
In June, the Mineta Transportation Institute released the results from a national survey of American's attitudes towards federal transportation tax options. The survey, conducted between April and May of this year, examined public support for eight different tax options intended to raise revenue for transportation projects. The options included increasing the federal gas tax, creating a new national sales tax and establishing a new mileage tax.
The survey of more than 1,500 adults did not result in majority support for any of the options, but did produce at least two key policy recommendations. First, support for a transportation tax strongly increases when linked to environmental benefits. Results showed that respondents were more likely to support a gas tax increase when told that revenues would be spent on projects to reduce global warming. Support for a mileage tax increased when the rate varies depending upon the vehicle's pollution. The second recommendation is to improve support for a one-time gas tax increase by varying its structure, such as spreading the increase out over five years.
To see the full report visit:
DOT Announces $293 Million in New Transit Funding
LOCAL INVESTMENT NEEDED TO LEVERAGE FEDERAL
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has announced $293 in new transit funding for communities across the country. These grants for new streetcars, buses, and transit facilities are being made available as part of the Administration's livability initiative, which is designed to improve coordination between investments in transportation, housing and commercial development.
Transit projects were eligible to receive up to 80 percent in federal funding. This means that the regions receiving grants had to be prepared to make potentially significant local investments. Many of the communities on the receiving end of these grants have recently voted to increase local support for public transportation. St. Louis, MO received the maximum grant amount of $25 million to build a two-mile, nine-stop urban streetcar route. Voters in St. Louis approved a half-cent sales tax for Metro in this past April. Other communities to receive grants include Charlotte, NC; Denver, CO; Albuquerque, NM, Mahoning County, OH; Seattle, WA; and Salt Lake City, UT. In the past few years, all of these communities have approved ballot measures in support of local transit funding.
To view the complete list of funded projects: http://www.fta.dot.gov/news/news_events_11820.html
2011 TIC Conference Heads to St. Louis, MO
CFTE will be conducting the biannual Transit Initiatives in Communities Conference in St. Louis, MO. TIC is scheduled for June 20 - 22, 2011. Our host hotel is the Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark! More conference information coming soon!