#Transitvote 2012: A Preview

There are a slew of transit funding ballot measures across the country this summer and fall. There are another set of potential ballot measures pending at the local government level that could still make it to the ballot this year. 

Transit ballot measures are important for two major reasons. Most transit is funded primarily at the local level and often times tax measures on the ballot are the biggest sources of funding for service protection, restoration, or expansion. Beyond that, they are a great cause to organize riders around. Often times campaign efforts spawn long-term rider coalitions and advocates.

The Center for Transportation Excellent (CFTE) tracks transportation ballot measures around the country and holds a great conference every two years to discuss lessons learned and best practices from recent efforts. They report that in 2011 79% of transit measure won on the ballot! An incredible number considering this economic climate.Click here for CFTE’s comprehensive list of ballot measures they are tracking. To highlight just a few:

On the Ballot:

  • Atlanta, Georgia has a penny sales tax for roads and transit on the ballot for a July 31st vote. 51% will go towards transit. The campaign,Untie Atlanta, has a $8 million dollar budget for the effort, one of the largest ever. While the campaign does a lot for transit, including restore bus service that was cut entirely in low-wealth Clayton County, like most big measures, it is controversial.
  • Pierce Transit (Tacoma, WA) is going to the ballot for a .3% sales tax measure to restore bus service. They have cut service by 40% over the past two years. If this measure passes it will restore service with increased frequencies and evening service. Check out the Restore Transit Now Facebook page.
  • Genesse County Michigan (Flint, MI) has a measure that will raise $3.3 Million per year for transit service that is on the ballot this August.

Pending:

  • LA County is considering extending their Measure R sales tax by 10 years, which will allow them to build their transit expansion projects faster than they currently are able to.
  • In an effort to stop or greatly reduce service cuts, San Francisco (MUNI) is considering a comprehensive tax package to close $1.6 Billion Dollar 20 year defect.
  • Pinellas County, FL is considering a tax measure to expand transit service in 2012 or 2013.
  • Kansas City, MO is considering a downtown streetcar and comprehensive regional transit measure, both which could be on the ballot this November.
  • Columbia South Carolina is considering and roads and transit sales tax measure. The South Carolina Progressive Network and the local ATU have been leading a well organized charge to get more of the funds from the proposed November measure to go to transit. More info here.
  • Many other pending measures.

Stay tuned our blog and the #transitvote twitter hashtag as we follow transit ballot measures this year.


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