News & Media
CFTE Express Vol.13, No.6December 18, 2015
In This Issue …
- A Recap of 2015: Another Good Year for Transit
- A Look Ahead to 2016
- Upcoming Events
2015 in Review: Another Good Year for Transit
2015 concluded as another great year for transit across the country. Twenty-four of the 34 total measures this year won at the ballot box, meaning transit initiatives enjoyed a 71 percent success rate (up two percent from last year). With 34 measures, this year also saw the highest number of transit elections in an off-cycle year since CFTE started tracking measures in 2000, indicating that transit measures remain a popular method of seeking support for local projects and operations.
Furthermore, measures were spread throughout ten states this year. Sales tax measures remained the most popular type of measure, closely followed by property tax measures. These are traditionally the two most common types of transit measures on ballots nationwide. Other 2015 measures included ones on fees and other taxes, advisory measures, a bond initiative, and a referendum on joining a regional transit agency.
One of the 2015’s biggest measures took place in Phoenix, AZ in August. Prop. 104, a ballot initiative to increase the sales tax for transit from 0.4 percent to 0.7 percent, passed by a ten percent margin. MovePHX, the group running the yes campaign, capitalized on the past successes of Phoenix’s light rail system and the mayor’s staunch support for the measure, building a campaign with a strong presence online and on the ground.
In Utah, 17 counties put Prop. 1, a transportation initiative to increase the sales tax by 0.25 percent, on the general election ballot. Of those 17 counties, six fall within the Utah Transit Authority’s (UTA) service area, and in those six counties, 40 percent of revenue from the new tax would go to UTA. Each county voted individually on the measure. Three of the six UTA counties—Davis, Tooele, and Weber—approved the measure, while the other three—Salt Lake, Utah, and Box Elder—voted it down. The final vote in Salt Lake County remained too close to call for weeks following the election, but official election results released at the end of November revealed the measure lost by just a couple percentage points.
You can find more information on Phoenix, Utah, and other 2016 elections here.
As 2015 draws to a close, it is clear that voters continue to support transit at a high rate. This is encouraging given that 2016 is already shaping up to be a big year both in number of elections and the scope of measures on the ballot.
A Look Ahead to 2016
Looking ahead, 2016 promises a large number of ballot measures for transit. Amidst the many localities potentially going to the ballot next year, four in particular would be big wins for transit should they pass.
In March 2016, Pulaski County (Little Rock), AR is preparing to call a referendum on a 0.25 percent sales tax to provide dedicated funding for Rock Region Metro. The plan put forward by Move Central Arkansas includes adding buses and bus routes and increasing frequency. Rock Region Metro has also expressed a desire to create some bus rapid transit routes in the region. The vote in March is scheduled to coincide with the state’s primary election.
Wake County, NC, has proposed putting a half-cent sales tax for a regional transit plan on the ballot next November. The proposed plan aims to bring transit to all 12 towns in Wake County, to connect the counties, to create frequent transit service in urban areas, and to extend coverage to be accessible to the majority of Wake County residents. According to the non-profit advocacy organization WakeUP Wake County, the investment would quadruple the investment in bus service in the county, creating 83 miles of frequent 15-minute bus service and 20 miles of bus rapid transit. The ten-year plan also includes a commuter rail line from Garner to Durham. This measure would be instrumental to expanding transit in the Raleigh-Durham region.
In Los Angeles, the county is planning to ask voters next November to decide on renewing and increasing the current sales tax for transit. In 2008, LA County residents approved Measure R, a half-cent sales tax to fund transportation projects, including substantial transit improvement and expansion. Measure R2, as next year’s measure has been dubbed by the non-profit MoveLA, would not only seek to renew that half-cent sales tax, but it would also add an additional half cent to the tax, further increasing investment in LA transportation.
The final race to keep on your radar as we head into 2016 will take place in Washington. Sound Transit in the Seattle metropolitan area is in the process of putting a measure before voters in November 2016. They are referring to the measure as Sound Transit 3. This initiative would expand the existing mass transit system, which includes light rail, commuter rail, and bus service, specifically working to increase the service area and frequency for passengers in the Puget Sound. The measure on the November ballot would entail a combination of sales taxes, property taxes, and car registration fees collected for 15 years.
These are just a few of the many measures to come in 2016, but they are some of the biggest on CFTE’s radar. Be sure to check our elections page for the most up-to-date 2016 election information in the New Year!
Six Stops to Success Webinar Series 2015-2016, Part 2
January 12th, 2016
As we all know, transit projects are often complex and require large sums of money. A ballot measure has been the foundation of long-term transit success in many communities. Successful ballot initiatives demonstrate public support for transit projects, which can often leverage state, federal, and private dollars. This webinar will look at the role of locally dedicated funding in building transit systems and look back at the role of local support in catalyzing significant transit growth and development. Guests working on ground in Charlotte, Denver, and Kansas City will join us to discuss how successful ballot measures helped shape the systems currently operating in their communities. If you have big ideas, local support can opens doors to bigger opportunities down the road.
The Center for Transportation Excellence is thrilled to partner once again with the National Alliance of Public Transportation Advocates (NAPTA) to bring you Six Stops to Success, a free webinar series designed to help transit advocates around the country share ideas and work together to promote innovative transit investment and improvements.
American Public Transportation Association Legislative Conference
March 13-15, 2016
JW Marriott, 1331 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
The Legislative Conference educates members on important federal legislation and policy initiatives; provides members with the opportunity to shape future industry positions and federal transportation policy; provides direction on the industry’s legislative strategy and advocacy efforts with the U.S. Congress and Administration executives; and offers sessions with key members of Congress, Hill staff, Administration officials, and Washington opinion makers.
Who should attend?: CEOs, board members, government affairs and communications professionals, transit operators, consultants, manufacturers and suppliers, local coalition members, and state association leaders