News & Media
CFTE Express Vol.14, No.3July 06, 2016
In This Issue …
- A Successful Spring for Transit Measures: A Look at Recent and Upcoming Referendums
- Hope for Transit Investment in the Motor City
- November Set to be Busy Month for Transit in the Golden State
- Upcoming Events
A Successful Spring for Transit Measures: A Look at Recent and Upcoming Referendums
Four Transit Wins in Michigan
Voters in four Michigan cities went to the polls on May 3rd to decide whether or not to renew their current property tax measures for transportation.
Fort Gratiot and Port Huron both passed four-year renewals of their current 0.6214-mill property tax for the Blue Water Area Transportation Commission by 69.8 percent to 30.2 percent and 55.6 percent to 44.4 percent respectively.
Voters in Holland and Holland Township overwhelmingly approved a 0.4-mill property tax renewal that funds the MAX Transit bus system by a margin of 81.8 percent to 18.2 percent.
Finally, Kalamazoo passed a five-year 0.315-mill renewal to fund the Kalamazoo County Transportation Authority with 58 percent voting in favor and 42 percent voting against. This is in addition to the 0.75-mill tax approved by voters within the Central County Transportation Authority last summer to expand Kalamazoo Metro Transit services.
Texas Anti-Transit Measures Defeated
In Richland Hills, Texas a referendum on whether or not to stay in the Fort Worth Transportation Authority (and maintain the half-cent sales tax to support transit) was put on the May 7th ballot. Residents voted to stay in, 54.2 percent to 45.8 percent.
Similarly, Residents of the City of Castle Hills also voted on May 7th on whether or not to continue VIA Metropolitan Transit Authority service to its residents. If voters had rejected the measure, the half-cent sales tax that currently goes to VIA service would have been redirected towards road and infrastructure improvements. Residents voted to remain part of the transit authority by a margin of 59.8 percent to 40.2 percent.
Two West Coast Wins
On April 26th, the City of Ellensburg, Washington passed a measure that would increase the sales tax by up to 0.2 percent for ten years to support the Ellensburg Transportation Benefit District. Passing 62.6 percent to 37.4 percent, the measure will fund increased public transportation operations and maintenance projects. Central Transit currently operates free transit services and has seen a 65 percent increase in ridership since last year.
Voters in Jackson County, Oregon approved a levy of 13 cents per $1000 of assed property value for five years on May 18th, providing the Rogue Valley Transportation District with more tax money for the first time in 30 years. The measure passed, 61.4 percent to 38.6 percent, meaning bus services will be restored and expanded. A similar measure failed in 2014.
In other news, Monongalia County, West Virginia approved a 0.022 percent property tax levy to support the Mountain Line Transit Authority on May 10th. 63.1 percent voted for and 36.9 percent voted against, surpassing the required 60 percent threshold required for passage.
As numerous measures continue to be set for the November general election, two Michigan municipalities will be voting in August. Bedford Township and Clare County will both see property tax renewal measures to fund their respective transit services.
While Clare County passed the 0.3-mill renewal measure last summer, a clerical error prevented the tax from beginning until 2017. Bedford Township failed to pass a 0.1-mill property tax increase in March, so they will now be voting on a 0.25-mill renewal.
Hope for Transit Investment in the Motor City
Detroit is known for many things, but of late, transit has not been one of them. That’s poised to change. This November, voters in the Detroit metro area will consider a ballot initiative that would pave the way toward the creation of a regional transportation network. Want to learn more about the amazing transit opportunities that could spring from a successful referendum in Detroit? Check out this campaign profile on transit in the motor city.
November Set to be Busy Month for Transit in the Golden State
This year is shaping up to see a record number of transit ballot initiatives around the country, in large part due to a plethora of measures anticipated to go before voters across California. So far, six transit-related ballot initiatives have been confirmed for the ballot this November, with ten additional tentative measures under consideration.
The biggest California measure this year is slated to go before Los Angeles County voters. This measure, referred to as Measure R2, was formally approved for the ballot at the end of June. It would extend the current half-cent sales tax passed under Measure R in 2008 and add an additional half-cent sales tax to fund a wide array of transportation projects. The majority of funding would go to transit projects, including an extension of the Purple Line, numerous light rail extensions, improved bus networks, and a Sepulveda Pass transit corridor. In addition, Measure R2 would fund active transportation projects and infrastructure to improve first mile/last mile connections. If passed in November, this measure would generate an estimated $120 billion in revenue over 40 years.
In addition to LA, the Bay area has confirmed a $3.5 billion bond measure to fund capital improvements for Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART). If passed, homeowners in San Francisco, Alameda, and Contra Costa Counties would pay an additional $35-55 per year over the 40-year life of the bond depending on the assessed valuation of their properties. Projects include replacing the system’s aging electrical system, replacing worn rails, fixing leaking tunnels, updating the central control computer system, and increasing passenger capacity.
Santa Clara County, Ventura County, Santa Cruz, andSacramento have all confirmed separate 30-year half-cent sales tax measures for the November ballot as well. In Santa Clara, this additional revenue would fund transportation projects, including BART expansion in the county. Ventura County is the only county in southern California that does not currently have a sales tax in place to support transportation, so the measure on the ballot there aims to change that. It would raise an estimated $1.65 billion for transportation improvements in the county, including rail and bus service. The Santa Cruz Regional Transportation Commission is asking voters to approve a $500 million measure, 20 percent of which would go to transit for seniors and the disabled as well as an analysis of rail as a transit option. Finally, Sacramento voters will consider a measure that would raise an estimated $120 million annually for transportation projects, including expanded bus service and light rail to the airport. Thirty percent of additional revenue would go to transit.
San Diego is close to finalizing a 40-year half-cent sales tax for the November ballot. If approved, this measure would generate an estimated $18.2 billion over 40 years, with funding going to surface rail and a skyway gondola system. Roughly 40 percent of new revenue generated by this tax would go to transit. Some controversy over the inclusion of highway funding in the measure has led certain groups who would otherwise support transit investment to oppose the measure outright.
In addition, along with the confirmed regional measure in the Bay area mentioned above, individual counties and cities in that area are also considering additional measures of their own. The City of San Francisco is working on a 0.75 percent sales tax measure that would direct funding toward transit improvements. Meanwhile, Alameda and Contra Costa Counties are discussing a joint measure that would extend the current $96 per year parcel tax that accounts for seven to nine percent of the annual operating revenue for the Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District (AC Transit). Finally, Contra Costa County is developing a half-cent transportation sales tax measure to fix pot holes, improve freeways, boost transit, and fund other measures aimed at easing traffic congestion. The measure would generate an estimated $2.3 billion over 30 years for road and transit projects overseen by the Contra Costa Transportation Authority. While these additional measures have not been finalized for the ballot, they are all in various stages of discussion and preparation.
The final list of statewide measures in California is set to be released tomorrow. Three potential measures on that list pertain to transit. The first proposes lowering the threshold required to pass a ballot measure from the current 67 percent to 60 percent. This would make it easier to pass transit measures in the state. The other two statewide measures would have a negative impact on transit. One seeks to divert about $8 billion in bond money away from the high-speed rail project to build water storage, while the other—dubbed the “No on Blank Checks Initiative”—would require a public vote on any state project in which $2 billion or more in revenue bonds would be issued. The California high-speed rail line would likely require this kind of financing. Thus, if on the ballot, these measures could jeopardize state funding for transit projects in California.
To alleviate regional congestion, Monterey County is also seeking a 3/8-percent sales tax that would provide revenue to the Transportation Agency for Monterey County (TAMC) for transportation projects including transit. In Placer County, voters will likely decide on a half-cent 30-year sales tax to fund rail and road improvements, with about 12 percent of new revenue slated to go to transit. And finally, in Stanislaus County, officials are considering a half-cent sales tax for transportation that would be in place for 25 years. While transit is part of the plan, the percentage allocated to transit remains unclear.
2016 is a big year for transit measures across the country, but California in particular is poised to ask a large portion of its voters to support investment in transit operations and infrastructure at the ballot box.
Six Stops to Success Webinar Series 2015-2016, Part 5
Tuesday, July 12th, 2016
In order to be successful, 21st Century campaigns must find new and innovative ways of understanding who their voters are and how best to reach them. As a result, access to accurate and comprehensive data is becoming increasingly important. This webinar will discuss the future of polling and data collection and examine the role data can play on the campaign trail. Participants will learn how to use data most effectively and tailor campaign messages to resonate with a wide array of different audiences.
Moderator: Marnie Primmer, National Alliance of Public Transportation Advocates
Speakers: Patrick Ruffini, Echelon Insights & Engage; Caron Whitaker, League of American Bicyclists; Ian Stewart, EMC Research
The Sustainability & Public Transportation Workshop is the premier forum for sustainability leaders and newcomers in the transit industry to advance public transportation’s role in sustainability. Attendees have the opportunity to interact with cutting-edge speakers and learn from their peers in breakout sessions and round-table discussions about realizing environmentally- economically- and socially-responsible practices and developments.
Who should attend: general managers and senior staff likely to implement sustainability in transit agencies, suppliers, consultants, and others supportive of public transportation's role in sustainability
Los Angeles, CA
APTA's Annual Meeting is the flagship event for public transportation professionals to engage in workshops, join tours, and network with colleagues. Keynote speakers and educational sessions explore hot topics, including transformative technology, community building, innovative funding and finance, safety, workforce development, worldwide mega projects, and more.
Who should attend: public transportation agency and business leaders, board members, representatives of governmental agencies, manufacturers, suppliers, and consultants