Election 2016: Major Transit Ballot Initiatives Approved in Atlanta, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Seattle; Illinois & New Jersey Move to Protect Transportation Funds
Donald Trump’s surprising win wasn’t the only big story to emerge on Election Day. Voters also had the opportunity to weigh in on a number of important transportation-related ballot measures around the country. Here’s a look at how they fared and an extensive collection of links where you can read more about those measures and the impacts of other election results.
Successful Public Transit Ballot Measures
The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) noted earlier this year that $200 billion in revenues for public transit was on the ballot Tuesday. Many of the biggest transit-related ballot measures saw success, including:
- Los Angeles, California Measure M: The biggest package approved Tuesday is expected to generate $120 billion in funding over 40 years by extending an existing sales tax and adding an additional one-half cent increase in order to tackle rail, bus rapid transit, bike and pedestrian projects.
- Seattle, Washington Region Proposition 1 (Sound Transit 3): Voters in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties approved a $54 billion package of increased sales, property and motor vehicle excise taxes to fund the third phase of Sound Transit’s expansion, which will add 116 miles of light rail, increase the frequency of commuter rail trains and express bus service and create new bus rapid transit lines.
- Santa Clara County, California Measure B: Voters in the county, which includes San Jose, approved a one-half cent sales tax increase over 30 years to generate $6.5 billion to extend the BART rail system, improve local transit service and fund road work.
- San Francisco Propositions J and K: The propositions raise the sales tax by three quarters of a percent for 25 years to generate $3.5 billion for transit service expansion, infrastructure repair, bike and pedestrian infrastructure and services for the homeless.
- Atlanta MARTA Sales Tax: Voters approved a one-half cent sales tax increase that is expected to raise $2.5 billion over 40 years to pay for a new light rail line, a transit station, increased bus service and other upgrades to the MARTA transit system.
- Charleston County, South Carolina Sales Tax: Voters approved a one-half cent sales tax to generate $2.1 billion over 25 years for public transportation and road projects.
- Indianapolis/Marion County Proposal 145: Voters approved a 0.25 percent income tax, which is expected to generate $1.68 billion over 30 years to fund the IndyGo Marion County Transit Plan including three bus rapid transit routes and improved local and express bus service.
- Wake County (Raleigh) North Carolina: Voters approved a one-half cent sales tax to generate $1 billion over 10 years to partially fund the $2.3 billion Wake County Transit Plan including a commuter rail line, new bus rapid transit lines, and additional local and express bus service.
While those measures were successful, a number of others failed to garner the necessary support from voters, including:
- Greater Detroit, Regional Transit Authority Property Tax: The initiative was expected to raise $3 billion in local funding and an additional $1.6 billion in state and federal funds for commuter rail, bus rapid transit and expanded express bus service.
- Sacramento County, California, Measure B: Voters were asked to approve a one-half cent sales tax increase, which would have provided an estimated $3.6 billion over 30 years for light rail expansion and new bus rapid transit.
- Broward County, Florida Sales Tax: Asked to consider a sales tax increase, voters said they would support the tax for transportation improvements but not for city infrastructure. But since the measures were entwined, the failure of one means neither will be enacted.
Transportation Lockbox Measures
Voters in both Illinois and New Jersey supported constitutional amendments to restrict how money raised from transportation-related activities can be spent. The measure in Illinois creates a so-called lockbox that would prevent raids on transportation funds to fill other budget holes. New Jersey’s measure expands the types of revenue that go into the state’s transportation trust fund and are designated for transportation purposes.
Meanwhile, voters in Louisiana approved an amendment to create a new Revenue Stabilization Trust Fund to be filled with oil and gas revenue and corporate taxes when those collections are higher than normal. Up to 10 percent could be spent on construction projects and roadwork once the fund reaches $5 billion. Another portion of the revenues will be used to pay down state retirement debt. Voters there rejected an amendment that would have made it easier for lawmakers to tap into protected funds when the state is faced with financial challenges.
Other Transportation-Related Ballot Notes
In other transportation-related ballot news, Maine voters approved a $100 million bond issue to finance the construction, reconstruction and rehabilitation of highways and bridges.
Also, the city of Austin, Texas received permission from voters to borrow $720 million for road projects as well as trail and transit improvements.
But voters in Virginia Beach, Virginia declined to support a nonbinding referendum in support of light rail.
CSG National Conference in Colonial Williamsburg
The impact of the 2016 election on transportation policy will be among the topics discussed when the CSG Transportation & Infrastructure Public Policy Committee convenes at the CSG National Conference in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia. Among the speakers will be a long-time observer of transportation policy in the Nation’s Capital, Jeff Davis, senior fellow at the Eno Center for Transportation and editor of the Eno Transportation Weekly. The session will also include a discussion on autonomous vehicle policy and a look at what Columbus, Ohio plans to do with the grant money they received as part of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge. And Virginia Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne will bring us up to speed on the commonwealth’s new transportation project prioritization process. The session takes place on Friday, December 9 from 8 to 10:30 a.m. Register now for the National Conference here.
Further Reading on 2016 Election
Presidential & Congressional Election Impacts
- “Trump’s infrastructure ambitions may be something most Americans can get behind,” Curbed, November 9, 2016.
- “Donald Trump’s presidency: A guide to five key issues,” Quartz, November 9, 2016.
- “AAR, APTA react to national election results,” Progressive Railroading, November 9, 2016.
- “Stephanie Murphy Defeats GOP’s Mica in Florida’s 7th District,” Roll Call, November 8, 2016.
- “Republican House Members and Transportation Figures Jolly, Mica Ousted in Florida,” Transport Topics, November 8, 2016.
- “Trump and Clinton Both Want to Fix Infrastructure. But That Doesn’t Mean They’ll Succeed.” FiveThirtyEight, November 5, 2016.
- “While You Weren’t Looking, Donald Trump Released a Plan to Privatize America’s Roads and Bridges,” Slate, November 4, 2016.
- “Active Transportation Agenda for the Next President,” Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.
- “Infrastructure: Can We Finally Think Big? The defining challenge of the next president’s infrastructure agenda will be persuading Congress to come along for the ride,” The American Prospect, October 31, 2016.
- “Short- and long-term strategies to renew American infrastructure,” Brookings, October 26, 2016.
Ballot Initiatives – General
- “2016 Election Results,” Center for Transportation Excellence.
- "If Not for Trump, Last Night Would Have Been Great for Transit," Streetsblog USA, November 9, 2016.
- “In Cash-Strapped States, Voters Protect Transportation Funds,” Governing, November 9, 2016.
- “Many transit-rail initiatives win on local ballots,” Progressive Railroading, November 9, 2016.
- “How Transit Fared in the 2016 Election,” Next City, November 9, 2016.
- “Transit Vote 2016: What’s at Stake on Local Ballots and How to Track Results,” Streetsblog USA, November 8, 2016.
- “Top 10 transportation ballots to watch,” The Hill, November 8, 2016.
- “Don’t vote against mass transit just because Uber is so cheap,” The Verge, November 8, 2016.
- “States, counties, cities vote on transportation initiatives,” USA Today, November 7, 2016.
- “Voters Set to Decide Dozens of Local Ballot Measures on Transportation,” The Wall Street Journal, November 7, 2016.
- “The 2016 CityLab Voters Guide,” The Atlantic CityLab, November 7, 2016.
- “Phoenix held ups as model to voters weighing $200 billion in transit questions,” The Arizona Republic, November 4, 2016.
- “Election 2016: Voters in eight states to decide on transportation issues,” Land Line Magazine, November 3, 2016.
- “On the ballot 2016,” The Transport Politic, November 3, 2016. (With Updating Results)
- “A Historic Year for Transit Ballot Measures,” Mass Transit magazine, November 2, 2016.
- “Want Transit? Get It On the Ballot!” The American Prospect, October 28, 2016.
- “Voters to Decide Billions in Ballot Issues as Reports See Infrastructure Spending Flatten,” AASHTO Journal, October 28, 2016.
Ballot Initiatives - State Specific
- “A tax hike to fund a major expansion of the Metro system is leading in early returns,” Los Angeles Times, November 9, 2016.
- “Sacramento and Placer transportation taxes fail to pass,” Sacramento Bee, November 9, 2016.
- “Ventura County transportation tax measure defeated,” Ventura County Star, November 9, 2016.
- “County Officials Must Go Back to the Drawing Board on Transportation Funding,” Voice of San Diego, November 9, 2016.
- “Stanislaus voters finally approve countywide transportation tax,” The Modesto Bee, November 8, 2016.
- “BART Measure RR on track to win,” San Francisco Chronicle, November 8, 2016.
- “Transit Vote 2016: California’s Transportation Funding Ballot Initiatives,” Streetsblog USA, November 7, 2016.
- “Opinion: Clinton is weak on climate change and Trump is a disaster—but that doesn’t mean all hope is lost on Election Day,” Los Angeles Times, November 4, 2016.
- “Elected Officials Rally for Measure A Transportation Projects,” Times of San Diego, November 2, 2016.
- “Shocking new studies: Silicon Valley’s ‘megacommute’ even worse than L.A.,” The Mercury News, November 2, 2016.
- “Why Measure B is good for commuters,” The Sacramento Bee, October 31, 2016.
- “Car-crazy Los Angeles might have a few things to teach the smug Bay Area about mass transit,” Los Angeles Times, October 29, 2016.
- “Measure M can thaw L.A. County glacial traffic: Guest commentary,” Los Angeles Daily News, October 28, 2016.
- “Transportation plans stymied,” Capitol Weekly, September 19, 2016.
- “No sales tax increase in Broward,” Sun Sentinel, November 8, 2016.
- “Voters drive TSPLOSTS, MARTA measures to pass,” 11 Alive, November 9, 2016.
- “Will voters decide to double down on the Atlanta Streetcar?” Atlanta Magazine, November 2016.
- “Uber Supports MARTA Expansion & T-SPLOST Ballot Measures,” Uber Newsroom, November 3, 2016.
- “Atlanta, where cars are king, considers a new transit future,” Christian Science Monitor, October 28, 2016.
- “Transit Vote 2016: Atlanta May Finally Expand MARTA and Beef Up Bus Service,” Streetsblog USA, October 27, 2016.
- “Road referendum gets red light in Peoria County,” Journal Star, November 8, 2016.
- “Transportation ‘Lockbox’ Amendment Gets Greenlight From Illinois Voters,” DNA Info, November 8, 2016.
- “Know your ballot: Voters consider constitutional amendment on transportation funding,” The Daily Northwestern, November 1, 2016.
- “Supporters declare victory for mass transit hike in Marion County,” Indianapolis Star, November 9, 2016.
- “Would Cleveland bus rapid transit work for Indy? Voters can decide,” Indianapolis Star, November 6, 2016.
- “Transportation’s Poverty-Fighting Potential,” Governing, October 31, 2016.
- “Louisiana voters pass 3, reject 3 amendments to state Constitution,” The Advocate, November 8, 2016.
- “Maine Voters Endorse $100M Transportation Bond,” Maine Public Radio, November 8, 2016.
- “RTA millage rejected by metro Detroit voters,” Detroit Free Press, November 9, 2016.
- “Carson City voters say ‘no’ to gas tax,” Nevada Appeal, November 9, 2016.
- “N.J. votes to dedicate gas tax revenue to transportation projects,” NJ.com, November 9, 2016.
- “Will N.J. voter anger over gas tax hike sink transportation ballot question?” NJ.com, November 2, 2016.
- “Wake approves tax hike for transit plan,” WRAL.com, November 8, 2016.
- “Transit Vote 2016: Raleigh’s Chance to Grow Smarter,” Streetsblog USA, November 1, 2016.
- “Springfield gas tax increase trailing in early returns; Cottage Grove and Coburg gas taxes also trailing,” The Register-Guard, November 9, 2016.
- “Voters approve marijuana, say no to gas tax,” The World, November 9, 2016.
- “Voters reject Clackamas fuel tax,” Portland Tribune, November 8, 2016.
- “Ports improvements approved by R.I. voters,” Providence Journal, November 8, 2016.
- “Referendum results: Dorchester, Charleston OK tax hikes,” The Post and Courier, November 9, 2016
- “Austin transportation bond passes with 59.1 percent of the vote,” Austin American-Statesman, November 9, 2016.
- “Virginia Beach light rail referendum vote fails in a landslide,” The Virginian Pilot, November 8, 2016.
- “Major light rail vote coming soon in Virginia Beach. Here’s what you need to know.,” The Virginian-Pilot, October 29, 2016.
- “Seattle’s $54 Billion Light Rail Package Appears Headed for Passage,” Seattle Times, November 9, 2016.
- “Spokane Transit Prop 1 passes,” KXLY.com, November 8, 2016.
- “Uber backs Sound Transit 3 measure,” The Seattle Times, October 27, 2016.