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.

Unsuccessful Measures

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

Ballot Initiatives – General

Ballot Initiatives - State Specific

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Texas

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