Passenger Transport November 2019 Vol 77 No 21 - 2
C O M M E N TA R Y
BY JOSH COHEN
APTA's Center for Transportation Excellence
The Source for Public Transportation News and Analysis
VOLUME 77, NUMBER 21
Published bi-weekly by the American Public Transportation
Association, 1300 I St., NW, Suite 1200 East, Washington, DC
20005; (202) 496-4800; Fax (202) 496-4321; www.apta.com
Public Transit Scores Major Wins;
Keep Up the Momentum for 2020!
The results of the Nov. 5 election are in and voters across the country,
in communities both large and small, overwhelmingly voiced their support
for increased investment in public transportation.
HE SUCCESS OF 67 PERCENT of public transitrelated ballot measures nationwide-six of nine,
with one measure still undecided-demonstrates
that investing in transit and investing in local
economies are critical to communities.
Since the beginning of 2019, voters throughout the U.S.
have approved 12 of 16 public transportation ballot measures (or 75 percent, not including the undecided vote in
San Francisco). Three more measures will be considered by
voters before year's end.
This year has seen some innovative ballot measures. The
measure still pending in San Francisco seeks to tax rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft on a per-ride basis to
decrease congestion. Fifty percent of revenue for the tax is
planned to go toward public transit.
Through a successful measure in Cincinnati, public transit
advocates proposed a conditional repeal of the city's earnings tax that goes toward transit based on the results of
a sales tax measure next year. Without the earnings tax in
place, transit advocates believe a sales tax measure, which
would generate more revenue, can pass. The text of the
measure states that the earnings tax will only be repealed
if it is replaced by passing a countywide sales tax for transportation in 2020.
Some more traditional funding measures also passed
in this election cycle. Voters in Harris County, TX, which
includes Houston, approved a $3.5 billion bond measure
to support the MetroNEXT plan, which will greatly expand
public transit in the Houston metropolitan area. Albuquerque, NM, renewed its gross receipts tax for public transit
and also passed a bond measure focused on public transit. Maine voters statewide approved a $105 million bond
measure that could benefit public transit. Lake County, OH,
voters approved a sales tax to support Laketran.
Though 2019 is an off year for elections, it saw great
success for public transit at the ballot box. Much larger
turnout is anticipated in 2020 due to the presidential primaries and the presidential election. The 2016 presidential
election proved to be a huge opportunity for transit with
almost 80 measures on the ballot, of which more than
50 measures succeeded.
Communities are hoping to take advantage of high voter
engagement in 2020 by thinking big and bringing highly
ambitious public transit measures to the ballot box. Campaigns are already gearing up from coast to coast. APTA's
Center for Transportation Excellence (CFTE) is already
tracking nearly 20 measures and we expect that number
only to increase as election season approaches.
Some municipalities, like Marin and Sonoma counties in
California, are taking the election year as an opportunity
to renew successful taxes ahead of schedule. Others are
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This year has been another
successful journey for public
transportation at the ballot box and
2020 has the potential to be even
more successful. However, with a
crowded election season, public
transportation campaigns will need
advocates making sure voters know
that public transportation is a vital
part of their communities' growth.
considering new funding measures. Austin, TX, for example,
is considering a measure to fund Capital Metro's Project
Connect program. Public transit advocates in the Bay Area
are pushing for a sales tax mega-measure to benefit transit
throughout the region.
Public transit advocates will also have to defend against
critics in 2020. Earlier this year, voters successfully defeated
an initiative to stop the construction of light rail in Phoenix.
However, a measure passed Nov. 5 in Washington State
would lower car tabs to $30, which would cut billions of
dollars in public transit funding. More initiatives like these
seeking to halt the progress of public transit are likely to
appear in the coming years.
APTA's CFTE equips local leaders with the tools they
need to succeed in advancing public transportation through
initiatives and ballot measures. CFTE tracks outcomes and
trends of public transportation ballot measures at the state
and local levels. We provide messaging materials, fact
sheets and other resources to local leaders and provide
strategic and tactical support to campaigns across the
This year has been another successful journey for public
transportation at the ballot box and 2020 has the potential to be even more successful. However, with a crowded
election season, public transportation campaigns will need
advocates making sure voters know that public transportation is a vital part of their communities' growth. We hope
you'll join CFTE in making that message heard.
CFTE will hold the biannual Transit Initiatives and Communities Workshop Dec. 15-17 in Tampa, FL. The purpose
of the workshop is to provide communities with the tools
and skills they need to run successful ballot measure campaigns and will feature speakers who were instrumental
in passing ballot measures in their cities. We hope to see
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Nuria I. Fernandez, Chair
Jeffrey A. Nelson, Vice Chair
Freddie C. Fuller II, Secretary-Treasurer
David M. Stackrow Sr., Immediate Past Chair
Executive Committee Members
Dorval R. Carter Jr., Chicago Transit Authority
Francis "Buddy" Coleman, Clever Devices Ltd.
David A. Genova, Regional Transportation District
Michael Goldman, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
Huelon A. Harrison, Legacy Resource Group
Carol Herrera, Foothill Transit Executive Board
Kevin J. Holzendorf, Jacksonville Transportation Authority
Board of Directors
Karen H. King, Golden Empire Transit District
Michele Wong Krause, Dallas Area Rapid Transit
Jeanne Krieg, Eastern Contra Costa Transit Authority
Thomas C. Lambert, Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County
Adelee Marie Le Grand, Regional Transit Authority of New Orleans
Richard J. Leary, Toronto Transit Commission
Henry Li, Sacramento Regional Transit District
Raymond J. Melleady, USSC Group
Brad Miller, Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority
Allan Pollock, Salem-Keizer Transit
Leanne P. Redden, Regional Transportation Authority
William T. Thomsen, Urban Engineers
Thomas Waldron, HDR
President and CEO
Paul P. Skoutelas
Pamela L. Boswell, Vice President-Workforce Development and
David Carol, Chief Operating Officer
Linda C. Ford, General Counsel
Christina Garneski, Vice President-Meetings and Membership
Arthur Guzzetti, Vice President-Mobility Initiatives
and Public Policy
Kym L. Hill, Vice President-Executive Office & Corporate Secretary
Jeff Hiott, Vice President-Technical Services and Innovation
Shelley Taggart Kee, Vice President-Human Resources &
Ward W. McCarragher, Vice President-Government Affairs and
Petra Mollet, Vice President-Strategic and International Programs
Rosemary Sheridan, Vice President-Communications
Passenger Transport November 2019 Vol 77 No 21
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Passenger Transport November 2019 Vol 77 No 21
Passenger Transport November 2019 Vol 77 No 21 - 1
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Passenger Transport November 2019 Vol 77 No 21 - 12