News & Media
Vol. 4, No. 2February 08, 2006
In This Issue …
- 'Affordability Index' Measures Transportation Impact on Housing Costs
- California Seeks Ballot Box Boost for Transportation
- Minnesota Considers Motor Vehicles Tax Constitutional Amendment
- FTA Seeks New Starts Comments
- Countering the Latest from O'Toole
- News Updates
'Affordability Index' Measures Transportation Impact on Housing Costs
TOOL SHOWS ECONOMIC BENEFIT OF TRANSIT ACCESS
The Center for Transit Oriented Development and the Center for Neighborhood Techonology, with support from the Brookings Institution's Urban Markets Initiative, have released a new resource that examines the impact of transportation options on housing costs and affordability. The Housing and Transportation Affordability Index demonstrates the potential for household economic savings from improved access to public transportation. The index, build with data for every transit-served community in the nation, can be applied down to the neighborhood level of more than 42 cities in the United States.
Access the Index in CFTE's Reports & Research Update.
California Seeks Ballot Box Boost for Transportation
GOLDEN STATE VOTERS TO SEE MANY STATEWIDE, LOCAL MEASURES IN '06
California will be home to a host of major ballot measures for transportation in 2006. Key state leaders are wrangling over the specifics of a statewide bond measure, but it seems sure that a major proposal will make its way to California voters this fall. The action won't be just statewide as many counties are also moving to place measures on the ballot. Already three counties are working to meet requirements for the June primary vote, and as many as fifteen are considering initiatives in 2006.
The state legislature is now discussing potential statewide bond measures. Key committees are conducting hearings that are expected to continue over the next month. In the first hearing, the Schwarzenegger Administration presented a proposal totaling $26 billion in state bonds for transportation.
In addition to the Governor's measure, Senator Don Perata introduced a proposal last year authorizing $10.275 billion in bonds for a spectrum of capital improvements throughout the state, including transportation. Speaker Fabian Nunez has introduced a bill providing for infrastructure financing through bonds, fees, and assessments.
At the local level, action is also picking up momentum. Three counties - Monterey , Napa and Solano - have already taken initial steps toward the June ballot. Many others are looking to November. For example, later this month Santa Clara County officials will consider whether to put a quarter-cent sales tax on the ballot to fund projects, including the first BART trains to San Jose . Some counties are looking to renew expiring funding measures. Orange County voters are likely to consider a 30-year renewal of Measure M, a half-cent transportation sales tax. In Fresno County , officials are hoping voters will extend Measure C, a half cent sales tax that expires at the end of the year.
Check CFTE's Update on 2006 Ballot Measures
Minnesota Considers Motor Vehicles Tax Constitutional Amendment
AMENDMENT WOULD DEDICATE REVENUE FOR TRANSPORTATION
In November, Minnesota voters will decide the fate of a constitutional amendment that would dedicate revenue from the state's motor vehicle sales tax solely to transportation. The MVST revenue has routinely been siphoned off into the state's general fund. For the current fiscal year nearly half of the money will go toward non-transportation projects. One of the organizations leading the charge for the change, the Minnesota Transportation Alliance, estimates that nearly $6.5 billion has been diverted to non-transportation spending since 1981. The amendment calls for a graduated five-year phase-in. When fully implemented, the change would result in an additional $300 million annually for transit and highway projects throughout the Gopher State . The amendment was approved by state legislators last year but must be ratified by voters.
2006 Ballot Measures Update
FTA Seeks New Starts Comments
$8.8 BILLION PROPOSED FOR TRANSIT IN FY07 BUDGET
The new federal surface transportation law, the Safe, Accountable, Flexible and Efficient Transportation Equity Act: Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), calls for a new public transportation grant program for projects costing less than $250 million. The "Small Starts" program will be a component of the Federal Transit Administration's existing New Starts capital investment program. The intent is to provide small scale transit projects with an expedited review and approval process for federal assistance. FTA has issued its Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the Small Starts program. The public comment period runs through March 10. Although separate notice will be issued for proposed regulatory changes to the New Starts program, FTA released in January new guidance on New Starts. Comments on guidance are also due March 10.
FTA's annual New Starts Report and proposed FY07 budget was delivered to Congress earlier this week. The report evaluates major transit capital projects around the country that are proposed for federal New Starts funding, and makes recommendations to Congress regarding the allocation of $1.5 billion in New Starts funds for FY 2007. Overall, the new budget calls for $8.8 billion for transit programs, a slight increase from the $8.5 billion appropriated by Congress for the current fiscal year.
Countering the Latest from O'Toole
TIPS FOR RESPONDING TO 'DESIRE NAMED STREETCAR'
In January, the libertarian Cato Institute published a report by frequent public transportation critic Randal O'Toole entitled "A Desire Named Streetcar: How Federal Subsidies Encourage Wasteful Local Transit Systems." The report calls for dismantling federal support for local public transportation. The report has been profiled in several media outlets and may provide fodder for anti-transit advocates in upcoming ballot measure elections. CFTE has examined the report and prepared information that public transportation supporters can use to effectively respond.
Analysis & Respones to "Desire Named Streetcar"
CFTE monitors new developments in public transportation across the nation, including upcoming and potential elections.
Check out our 2006 news archive for recent articles.