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Dozens of Public Transport issues Face US Voters This November (2006)

Light Rail Now Project Team · October 2006

In today's social and economic environment, with massive government sponsorship of the motor vehicle and air transportation systems, public funding is critical to the viability of significant public transport – and, by and large, this means winning the approval of voters and key public officials. This coming November (2006), at least two dozen ballot measures impacting the improvement and expansion of public transport will face voters in the USA.

The following tabulation of this November's ballot measures has been adapted primarily from the more extensive, multi-year listing provided by the Center for Transportation Excellence, which can be viewed at the following webpage:

This has been supplemented by information from other sources.

As the Light Rail Now Project has repeatedly emphasized, all mobility systems are interrelated – particularly urban, regional, and intercity public transport systems. Public transport advocates may want to consider giving what support they can to the efforts to pass these ballot initiatives.

US Public Transport Ballot issues – November 2006

A record $37.3 billion infrastructure bond package that includes nearly $20 billion for transportation projects, including public transport.
Bay Area
Proposition 1A (Transportation Funding Protection) would close the loophole that allows state legislators to divert gasoline sales tax revenue from transportation to other state uses.
Bay Area
Proposition 1C would approve a $2.8 billion bond to fund development near transit and affordable housing projects.
Fresno County
An extension to Measure C, a half-cent sales tax for transportation, is before voters on the November ballot. The current tax is scheduled to expire at the end of the year.
Kern County
Voters will consider a 20-year, half-cent sales tax increase in November. The measure would generate an estimated $1 billion over the life of the tax. Projects would include roads and pubic transportation.
Marin County
A two-county, quarter-cent sales tax measure on the November ballot would enable the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) agency to fund a regional passenger rail service from Cloverdale to Larkspur. The system is expected to cost $340 million to build and $10 million to $12 million a year to operate and maintain.
Orange County
OCTA officials are planning to place a 30-year extension of Measure M (a previously approved mechanism for funding transportation, including public transport) on the ballot The extension would raise an estimated $11.8 billion. Without an extension, Measure M would expire in 2010.
San Joaquin County
Voters will consider a renewal of Measure K, a half-cent sales tax. The renewal would set aside 30% of total revenue for public transportation. The measure could generate $2.5 billion over 30 years.
Santa Barbara County
Local officials are planning to ask voters to extend Measure D, a half-cent sales tax for transportation. The 30-year extension would raise an estimated $1 billion.
Sonoma County
(See two-county, quarter-cent sales tax measure to fund passenger rail service by SMART (Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit) agency, under Marin County, above.)
Ventura County
Ventura County supervisors may again ask voters for additional transportation funding as soon as 2006.
West Placer County
A half-cent sales tax increase from 7.25% to 7.75% to fund transportation projects is on the November 2006 ballot.
Boulder County
issue 1A will fund improvements to public transit, provide incentives to increase transit use, and dramatically improve our countywide trail network for commuting and recreation. It will be funded by a 0.2% countywide sales tax (that is 2 cents on a ten dollar purchase) that will decrease to 0.05% after December 31, 2020. The transit and trails plans have been developed with broad public input, and input from every municipality in the county
Broward County
A 30-year, one-cent sales tax increase for transportation would fund a $12.6 billion transit investment plan. Of the total, $5.4 billion would fund new buses, regional ("commuter") rail, and light rail.
Voters in Holland and Holland Township will be asked in November to approve a tax to expand Macatawa Area Express (MAX) bus service. The 0.4-mill increase would raise up to $973,000 annually for five years.
A 0.45-mill addition to the existing property tax rate is proposed to support Metro Transit's system, which provides about 2.9 million bus rides to residents in Kalamazoo, Parchment, Portage, Kalamazoo Township, and Oshtemo Township, plus Metro Van, a demand-response service for the disabled, providing 36,000 rides, and Care-A-Van, a curb-to-curb demand- response service used heavily by seniors and those with disabilities, which provides 97,000 rides to residents throughout the county.
Voters are being asked to approve a constitutional amendment to dedicate car and truck sales taxes solely to transportation, including public transport. If approved, the change would generate approximately $300 million annually.
Kansas City
Voters are being asked to extend for 25 years an existing 3/8-cent sales tax that currently goes to the local bus system. That tax generates about $24 million annually, or about $37 per year for every resident, employee or visitor in Kansas City. The tax is currently scheduled to expire in 2009. The $975-million proposal would install a 27-mile light rail line estimated to cost $945 million; a fleet of 60 electric shuttle buses, costing about $20 million; and a $10-million aerial gondola tram connecting Union Station, Liberty Memorial and Penn Valley Park.
Voters are being asked to approve an $88.5 million bond issue, devoted to $80 million the state's highway and bridge program, $7 million for regional passenger ("commuter") rail, and $l.5 million for Rhode island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) buses. The bus funding would provide the local share of federal capital funding for the development of a new bus storage/maintenance/administrative facility.
Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority (RTA) is proposing a one-cent sales tax increase in Richland and Lexington Counties to generate $100 million annually for the transit system, improvement of roadways, green space, and bike paths. RTA will keep .25 of each penny in order to operate and with the counties receiving the remainder of the revenues.
Voters will decide if the city should join the Denton County Transportation Authority
Voters will be asked to approve a 1/2 cent sales tax to fund regional ("commuter") rail service connecting the exurban city to Fort Worth. The sales tax would generate an estimated $9 million annually for the rail line.
Salt Lake and Utah Counties
Voters face a proposal for a quarter-cent sales-tax increase to support highway and transit expansion, including light rail and regional rail.
King County
A 0.1-cent sale tax increase, approved by the King County Commission, is proposed to fund transit service. The levy would raise an estimated $50 million annually for transit – a total of $568 million for bus and other transit expansions over 10 years.
A property tax increase, proposed by Mayor Nickels, would pay for Seattle's backlog of street, bridge and sidewalk repairs, plus a host of transit, bike path, and safety improvements. The package would total $365 million over 9 years.
The Spokane Transit Authority (STA) has put a light rail advisory measure before voters in November. The measure would allow STA to begin purchase of right-of-way and preliminary design for the project.

SLC TRAX The huge success of Salt Lake City's TRAX light rail transit system has generated widespread public support and a clamor for expansion. A measure to generate additional revenue for expansion is on the November ballot.
[Photo: L. Henry]

Light Rail Now! website
Updated 2006/10/15

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