News & Media
Vol. 4, No. 6May 08, 2006
In This Issue …
- Primary Season is Underway: Canton Ohio Leads the Way with a Win for Transit
- $37 Billion Bond Measure Approved for California’s November Ballot
- Rail Capacity Hearings on Capitol Hill
- Impact of Gas Prices on Transit Use Garners New Attention
Primary Season is Underway: Canton, Ohio Leads the Way with a Win for Transit
ARIZONA, OREGON VOTERS DECIDE INITIATIVES ON MAY 16
Last Tuesday about 58 percent of Stark County (OH) voters supported renewing the Stark Area Regional Transit Authority’s 0.25 percent sales tax until 2012. The current SARTA tax, approved in 1997 and 2002, was to expire in June 2007. The levy will continue to cost residents $2.50 for every $1,000 in taxable goods purchased. It generates at least $11.85 million a year, an amount likely to rise with inflation.
Because the tax funds about 90 percent of SARTA’s operating budget, a failure to renew the tax by next year threatened to end public transportation in Stark County. SARTA’s monthly ridership has climbed every month from last June through March by 41 percent to 66 percent over the same months in the previous year. The boost coincided with soaring gas prices, and voters on Tuesday cited that as one reason to support the sales tax.
Additional primary elections featuring transportation ballot measures are on tap. Voters in Salem, Oregon; Tucson, Arizona; and Flagstaff, Arizona all go to the polls on May 16. Three California counties have transportation ballot measures slated for the June 6 primary election.
More information on the Stark County election
Updates on upcoming elections.
$37 Billion Bond Measure Approved for California’s November Ballot
RECORD MEASURE PROVIDES $20ILLION FOR TRANSPORTATION
In the early morning hours of May 5, California legislators passed a $37.3 billion package of bond measures to provide funding for housing, transportation, levee repairs and educational facilities. A majority of the funding will go to the Transportation Bond (SB 1266) which includes $20 billion for transportation projects. Also, included in the bond package is a provision that prevents lawmakers and the governor from raiding transportation funds to balance the state budget. Final approval followed months of wrangling between Gov. Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders. The compromise measure was approved with large bipartisan majorities. The measure will be presented for voter approval on the November 2006 statewide ballot. In addition to transportation, the measure also addresses housing, education, and disaster mitigation. More information on the details of the California transportation bond measure can be found on the CFTE website.
Election 2006 News & Updates
California Bond Measure Details
Rail Capacity Hearings on Capitol Hill
POLL FINDS AMERICANS WANT MORE PEOPLE, FREIGHT ON THE RAILS
A Congressional subcommittee conducted a hearing last week on the current shortage of railroad capacity in the United States and possible solutions to that shortage. Besides discussing the expanded capacity necessary to keep up with demand for rail freight transport, concerns were also raised about the future capacity of passenger transport and how it will affect the adequacy of the capacity on key freight routes. A number of stakeholders testified at the hearing including William Millar, president of the American Public Transportation Association, who noted that ridership on passenger rail was up 28% in 2005 and called on congress to invest in this system. All stakeholders agree that investing in infrastructure, specifically our aging rail system, will be vital in the future success of our nation’s economy. Chairman Steve LaTourette (R-OH) has scheduled another hearing regarding this issue for later this month.
A Harris Interactive poll found the American public would like to see an increasing proportion of personal and freight traffic going by rail. Commuter and long-distance trains top the list of nine modes of transportation that adults would like to see "have an increasing share of passenger transportation." When it comes to freight, railroads top the list of six modes of transportation that adults would like to see "have an increasing share of all goods and commodities movements in the United States."
Impact of Gas Prices on Transit Use Garners New Attention
DOT SECRETARY URGES TRANSIT USE
With gas prices at record levels and the traditional summer driving season set to begin, there is a growing chorus of voices acknowledging the role of public transportation in helping provide citizens with travel options and a way to beat rising costs. Speaking in Orlando, U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta promoted transit as an alternative to high gas prices. Mineta’s remarks come amid a flurry of media stories, public opinion polls, and ridership data that point to changing travel habits and new demands for increased choice from the public. Numerous transit systems across the country are seeing major increases in ridership that appear to be driven by gas prices. Usage data in the wake of last year’s price spikes suggest that not only are travel habits changing but also much of the increased use is being sustained over time.
Read recent gas prices and transit media coverage.
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