News & Media
CFTE Express Vol.13, No.5September 23, 2015
In This Issue …
- Moving Phoenix Forward: Prop 104 Passes with Substantial Support
- Four Wins for Transit in Michigan
- November 2015: A Preview of Elections to Come
- Upcoming Events
Moving Phoenix Forward: Prop 104 Passes with Substantial Support
On August 25th, voters in Phoenix approved Prop. 104, a measure to raise the sales tax for local transit from 0.4 to 0.7 percent. This was one of the year’s biggest measures thus far, and its passage was a huge win for transit. Voters approved this measure 55 percent – 45 percent.
Phoenix’s measure was an extension of an initiative passed in 2000, which implemented the initial sales tax rate for transit investment of 0.4 percent. In 2008, the first twenty miles of Valley Metro light rail began service, and the system has enjoyed significant success since then. Passengers take almost 44,000 light rail trips each day, which surpasses the transit agency’s ridership predictions for 2020. The city has also experienced significant revitalization as a result of transit-oriented development projects.
The support campaign for August’s measure, MovePHX, positioned a further 0.3 percent tax increase as an extension of the tremendous success Phoenix light rail has enjoyed thus far. The election was timed to coincide with the opening of a new light rail line to show voters the tangible benefits of transit expansion and link future improvements to passing Prop. 104.
Furthermore, campaign leaders strategically decided to place Prop. 104 on the same ballot as the Mayoral election. A strong transit supporter and highly popular among Phoenicians, incumbent mayor, Greg Stanton, ran a reelection campaign that largely revolved around promoting Prop. 104. His endorsement proved instrumental in building public support for the measure and getting voters to the polls.
For more in-depth analysis of the successes of the MovePHX campaign, be sure to check out our recent article!
Four Wins for Transit in Michigan
In addition to the big win in Phoenix, four counties in Michigan went to the ballot with tax measures for transit at the beginning of August, and all four measures passed.
Saginaw County sought to renew their three-mill property tax, which funds the majority of operations at Saginaw Transit Authority Regional Services. Voters overwhelmingly approved the renewal with 76.1 percent voting in favor and 23.9 percent voting against.
Kalamazoo County put a 0.75-mill property tax to fund the newly-formed Central County Transportation Authority on the August 4th ballot. This measure passed by a margin of 62.7 percent to 37.3 percent.
In Benzie County, voters renewed their 0.5-mill property tax to fund the Benzie Transportation Authority for five years. 74.6 percent voted in favor while 25.4 percent voted against the measure.
Finally, Clare County renewed a 0.3-mill property tax for the county-wide transit system for the next six years. Sixty-nine percent of county residents voted in favor of the measure and 31 percent opposed it.
While a statewide initiative to raise the sales tax by one percent to fund transportation improvements failed in May, and Frenchtown Township, MI, voted against a transit millage increase that same month, four other localities passed measures to fund transportation earlier this year. The August successes in Saginaw, Kalamazoo, Benzie, and Clare fit with a trend this year among Michigan residents who believe funding for transportation enhancements is vital to strengthening their communities.
November 2015: A Preview of Elections to Come
Currently, 22 municipalities across the country are heading to the ballot to seek increased funding for transit on November 3rd. Sixteen of those counties are in Utah, and the others are in Colorado, Washington, and Oregon.
In Utah, sixteen different counties will be voting individually on a 0.25 percent sales tax on all items except food to fund transportation improvements. In the six counties where the Utah Transit authority operates, 40 percent of the tax revenue would go towards expanding bus and train service, while the rest would go towards road improvements. In the other ten counties, all new revenue would go toward road improvements.
Colorado has two localities voting on transportation funding on November 3rd. Fraser and Winter Park are asking residents to vote on raising the sales tax to fund local transit. The measure in Fraser would raise the sales tax by one percent if approved, while Winter Park’s sales tax would go up by two percent. Winter Park recently took over operation of the Winter Park Resort Shuttle, and additional tax revenue would go toward expanding the fleet of buses and providing year-round service.
In Washington, Seattle will be voting on renewing the Bridging the Gap initiative, which originally passed in 2006. Bridging the Gap is an amalgamation of various taxes, and the revenue is used to invest in transit expansion as well as other infrastructure improvements. Snohomish County, WA will also vote November third on raising the sales tax by 0.3 percent to fund Community Transit operations.
Salem, OR has put a 0.21 percent payroll tax on the ballot to pay for expanding bus service to cover evenings and weekends. In addition to the organized support campaign for the measure, Yes for Cherriots, a vocal campaign fighting the initiative has emerged in Salem with support from Salem Health—the local hospital and a large employer in the city—and the local chamber of commerce.
Finally, officials in Wichita, Kansas are still deciding whether or not to place a 0.1 percent sales tax increase on the November ballot. If the initiative does go before voters, it would aim to bridge the budget shortfall for transit improvements. The transit agency would be asking for the same amount they would have received had a similar measure passed in 2014.
APTA Annual Meeting
October 4-7, 2015
Hilton San Francisco Union Square
333 O’Farrell St., San Francisco, CA
APTA's Annual Meeting is the flagship event for public transportation professionals to engage in educational sessions, workshops, tours, and network with colleagues. Keynote speakers discuss strategy and leadership. Educational sessions explore creating transit-oriented communities, investing in infrastructure, asset management, innovative funding and financing, managing emerging technologies, safety, workforce issues, and big transportation projects worldwide. With the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 2015, we'll celebrate the accomplishments and project forward for the next 25 years.
This meeting will include a session specifically on transit ballot measures. You can find a full schedule here.
Who should attend: public transportation leadership and staff, and representatives of governmental agencies and businesses, manufacturers, suppliers, and consultants
October 25-28, 2015
Hyatt Regency Dallas
300 Reunion Boulevard, Dallas, TX
The only conference that showcases the link between land use, transportation, and development, Rail-Volution is an annual event where planners, community activists, transit officials, consultants, developers, lenders, grassroots organizations, academics, elected officials, health advocates, and housing advocates share the most cutting edge information in their fields. For over 20 years, the Rail-Volution conference has been the place to engage in thoughtful discussions with change makers and influencers from over 300 communities, a place to share ideas and breakthroughs, frustrations and inspiration, about building livable communities with transit.
This year, CFTE will be participating in a session at Rail-Volution to help transit campaigns around the country come up with strategies to combat critics. Find a description for the “Dark Money: Outside Influence on Local Transit Initiatiaves” session here. If you plan to attend the conference, be sure to attend this session!
NACTO Designing Cities Conference 2015
October 28-31, 2015
110 E 2nd St., Austin, TX
Hosted by National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), The Designing Cities conference convenes transportation leaders and practitioners from across the country to discuss key trends in urban street design and transportation policy. Local leaders working on the ground to revitalize city streets exchange best practices with major city transportation stakeholders and private sector entrepreneurs committed to a common vision for healthier, more sustainable, economically vibrant cities of tomorrow.
CFTE will also be participating in a session entitled Strategies for Successful Transportation Ballot Measures at the Designing Cities Conference. If you’re attending, make sure you attend this session for some helpful insights into winning at the ballot!