News & Media
Vol. 4, No. 13December 11, 2006
In This Issue …
- Election Preview
- Ridership Continues to Increase Even as Gas Prices Fall
- Salt Lake Voters Support Increased Funding for Transportation
- Property Rights Initiatives Threaten Transportation
- FTA Issued Guidance on Coordinated Human Services Plans
- 2007 Transit Initiatives Conference Heads to the Lone Star State
2007 Transit Initiatives Conference Heads to the Lone Star State
SAVE THE DATE!
Austin , Texas - June 10-12, 2007
Downtown Austin Marriott Courtyard
Preliminary TIC Program
PA Transportation Funding and Reform Commission Calls for Critical Improvements
Report recommends $1.7 billion for Pennsylvania 's transportation needs
In early November, a bipartisan Transportation Funding and Reform Commission in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania issued a final report offering a funding solution to pay for critical improvements to Pennsylvania 's highways and bridges and for public transit which provides 413 million rides a year across the state. The Commission was formed by Governor Rendell's Executive Order 2005-1 to investigate and make recommendations to rectify the structural imbalance between revenue and costs of operating and maintaining public transportation service and state-owned highways and bridges in Pennsylvania The report entitled " Investing in Our Future: Addressing the Transportation Funding Crisis" offered a number of recommendations including a call to invest $760 million additional funding in targeted public transit funding. The commission concluded that "the financial underpinning of the commonwealth's public transit program is inadequate and the program structure is dysfunctional. The program and revenue streams need to be completely revamped." The state would raise its $576 million share by raising the 1 percent realty transfer tax by less than one percentage point; counties and municipalities would raise their shares by imposing local sales, earned-income, or realty-transfer taxes.
It remains unclear if and when the Governor and state lawmakers will act on these recommendations. Transit agencies and local advocates are urging action to be taken soon because without a public-funding increase, the state's two largest mass transit systems, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority and the Port Authority of Allegheny County, will have to address a combined $81 million deficit in the first six months of 2007.
To read the Full Report
2006 Continues the Trend of Transportation Investment at the Ballot Box
Voters Approve Approximately 70% of Transportation Measures Nationwide
On November 7, voters approved over $40 billion in new transportation-related investments. Voters in 13 states approved 22 of the 31 transportation ballot measures, including 7 statewide initiatives. The November elections continued the growing trend of securing additional transportation funding at the ballot box and the strong voter support for these measures.
In 2006 alone, voters in 15 states decided on 50 ballot measures. Once again in 2006 voters in states and communities across the nation approved new investments in vital transportation projects. For the year, more than $43 billion for transportation projects have been approved by the electorate. Overall this year approximately 69% of transportation measures were approved. The track record for transportation measures suggests that people are, contrary to conventional wisdom, very willing to increase local taxes to improve transportation when the benefits are clear. People want change and choices in transportation and the ballot box results prove it.
In California , voters approved over $30 billion in transportation investments, including an historic statewide bond initiative. All 10 county-level measures in California received a majority of the vote, although five did not pass due to the state's unique supermajority requirement. Other significant results include the approval of a sales tax measures in Salt Lake and Utah Counties (UT) to more quickly complete the popular new light rail service in the region.
In Minnesota , voters approved a constitutional amendment that will ensure vehicle-related taxes and fees would be spent on improving transportation. New Jersey voters approved a constitutional amendment increasing the amount of state gas taxes dedicated to the state's Transportation Trust Fund. Property tax measures were approved in two Michigan communities, and Seattle (WA) approved more than $500 million for a multi-modal repair and improvement package.
For All 2006 Election Results
Communities Across the Nation Are Adopting Complete the Streets Policies
Voters in Honolulu and Seattle Strongly Endorse Local Complete the Street Policies
Over the last few years there has been a growing movement to push for policies that ensure that streets are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users. Pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and bus riders of all ages and abilities are able to safely move along and across a complete street. Communities across the country have been adopting these policies and recently communities are asking voters to endorse these policies.
On November 7th, voters in Seattle and Honolulu showed their overwhelming support for measures that include Complete the Streets policies. Voters in Seattle passed a "Bridging the Gap" measure, which will increase property taxes to pay for roads, transit, bridges, and bikeways. The City Council had already passed a resolution vowing that projects funded by the measure must help create complete streets. In Honolulu voters approved a measure that authorized an amendment to the city's charter, adding the sentence, "It shall be one of the priorities of the department of transportation services to make Honolulu a pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly city." This, along with the Mayor's planned rail system, will help the city achieve a transportation system that links people walking or bicycling to trains and buses and gives residents better alternatives to driving to their destinations.
Find out more information on Complete Streets
SMART Among Others to Discuss Going Back To Voters in 2008
Communities Take Time to Analyze the 2006 Election Results
Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) placed Measure R, a quarter-cent sales tax on the Marin and Sonoma county ballots on November 7 but was unsuccessful. Measure R got about 65 percent of the vote, just shy of the two-thirds majority needed for approval. Though there is discussion of putting the Measure back on the ballot in 2008, SMART board members decided to first form a commission to analyze the 2006 results and to address criticisms of the proposal. A report to the full board is expected within 90 days. The focus of the commission will be in Marin County where 57 % of the voters voted yes as opposed to 69% in Sonoma County .
In looking back at the campaign, some board members said there should have been more emphasis on the 70-mile bicycle and pedestrian path that would run parallel to the train tracks. Some said the location of all 14 rail stations should have been pinned down before going to voters. The board is hoping that they can make some minor changes to the plan that will build consensus in the community and ensure success in 2008.
Santa Barbara County is also trying to figure out the best way to fund their Congestion Relief program that was defeated in November. Measure D was an extension of a half cent sales tax for transportation that is due to expire in 2010. The measure also included a quarter cent increase. With only 54 % of the voters approving this measure, it fell short of the supermajority requirement of 66.6%. Now County Commissioners and the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments will be left to analyze why Measure D lost and if it's worth trying again in 2008.
To See of Full List of Future Measures