News & Media
Vol. 4, No. 7May 28, 2006
In This Issue …
- Tucson Voters Approve $2.1 Billion Transportation Measure
- CaliforniaVoters Head to the Polls on June 6
- Study Finds Transit Benefits Exceed Subsidies
- House Subcommittee Examines Future of Infrastructure Finance
- Transit Advocates Agencies Join in 'Dump the Pump' Day
Tucson Voters Approve $2.1 Billion Transportation Measure
VOTERS SUPPORT REGIONAL PLAN & HALF-CENT SALES TAX
Voters in Pima County , Arizona approved both a new regional transportation plan and a half-cent sales tax to implement the plan. The plan was supported by 60% of Tucson-area voters. The accompanying dedicated sales tax won with 58% of the vote. The tax is expected to generate $2.1 billion over the next 20 years.
The package contains an array of highway, transit, and safety projects. Approximately one-third of the funding will support expanded transit in the region, including a streetcar connecting University Medical Center and downtown Tucson . The funding from the sales tax for the streetcar will allow Tucson to match available federal funding for the project.
An aggressive campaign in support of the two measures was led by business groups and transportation advocates. The Yes! for Regional Transportation Committee raised more than $1 million for the campaign. The win comes several previous electoral defeats of similar measures.
Results and updates on 2006 elections.
California Voters Head to the Polls on June 6
FOUR COUNTIES TO CONSIDER TRANSPORTATION MEASURES
On June 6th voters in several California counties will be deciding whether to fund transportation projects that will help ease the congestion of the notoriously grid-locked state.
Residents of Solano and Napa counties will decide whether they should raise their sales taxes by half a cent to ease congestion. Each county has prepared a detailed spending plan for the hundreds of millions of dollars it expects a tax to generate. A two-thirds majority vote is needed for the measure to pass.
In Santa Clara County , where voters in 1984 passed the state's first transportation sales tax, community leaders are trying a different approach. Voters are being asked to approve a half-cent sales tax to fund general county services -- affordable housing, health care and transportation, including the proposed BART extension to San Jose . A simple majority vote is needed for the measure to pass.
Voters in Monterey County will decide whether to levy a 1/2 of one percent sales tax for 14 years, secure state and federal matching funds and create a Citizens Oversight Committee. Supporters say Measure A will improve safety and traffic flow on Highways 1, 68 and 156, make Highway 101 safer, fill hazardous potholes, improve local bus service and expand transportation services for elderly and the disabled.
In Merced County the voters will have a second chance to decide whether to levy a 30-year half-cent sales tax increase that will raise $446 million for transportation.
Election Results and Updates
Study Finds Transit Benefits Exceed Subsidies
RESEARCHERS LOOK AT CONGESTION-REDUCTION BENEFITS
Researchers at Washington, D.C.-based policy research organization used a regional transport model to examine the Washington , D.C. region and estimate the travel benefits of the local transit system to transit users and the congestion-reduction benefits to motorists.
The researchers found that rail transit generates congestion-reduction benefits that exceed rail subsidies, the combined benefits of rail and bus transit easily exceed local transit subsidies, and that the lowest-income residents receive a disproportionately low share of the transit benefits. The report addresses criticism often leveled at transit alleging that investments are disproportional to the benefits on congestion reduction.
Read the full report
House Subcommittee Examines Future of Infrastructure Finance
LAWMAKERS FOCUS ON PRIVATIZATION INITIATIVES
Governors Mitch Daniels (R) of Indiana and Governor Tim Kaine (D) of Virginia were among a handful of experts that testified at the House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee on Wednesday May 24th. The hearing provided the Subcommittee insight into public private partnerships specifically regarding highway transactions. Recent high profiles lease agreements for highway toll facilities in Indiana, Virginia, and Chicago have brought these issues to the forefront of the debate on the future of infrastructure financing. Several members of the Subcommittee were critical of ventures underway in several states, particularly those involving foreign ownership of public infrastructure.
Governor Daniels argued that Indiana needed to address a funding shortfall and that after assessing all of the options including raising the state gas tax, indexing the gas tax, transferring states sales taxes on gasoline to transportation they decided that a public private partnership was the only option that would allow them to fund the states transportation needs in a timely manner. While Virginia is one of the national leaders on Public private partnerships, Governor Kaine pointed out "true public-private partnerships are not free. Someone has to pay a toll or a special tax, share in the risk of a project, or dedicate private funds that might otherwise go to private sector profitability."
This was the first in a series of scheduled hearings regarding infrastructure financing. Hearing transcripts and information is available from the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
Transit Advocates, Agencies Join in 'Dump the Pump' Day
AWARENESS EFFORT HIGHLIGHTS ENGERY VALUE OF TRANSIT
CFTE is joining efforts with APTA in celebrating National Dump the Pump Day on June 8, 2006.The day is dedicated to raising awareness that public transit is the quickest way to beat high gas prices. On June 8, transit agencies from coast to coast will join together nationwide to ask the public to park their cars and ride transit instead. After housing, transportation is the second highest cost for American families, outpacing both food and health care costs. Since January 2003, gas prices have increased by 100 percent. By using public transportation on a regular basis, a person can save between $300 and $3,000 in fuel costs per year.
As gasoline prices have increased, public transit systems across the United States are seeing an increase in ridership. "People use public transit more frequently when the cost of gas rises," said APTA President William Millar. "National Dump the Pump Day on June 8 will highlight that by using public transit, people can beat high gas prices, help reduce traffic congestion and assist our country in beating our oil addiction."