Despite the Pandemic, U.S. Cities Approve Transit Measures
Transit measures were on the ballot across the country this Election Day and varied from approving new capital campaigns to renewing funding sources. Overall, it was a positive night with a notable defeat in Portland, OR that setback a major light rail extension project in a growing and congested part of the metro area.
Hopefully, Portland can find another path forward. Continued investment in light-rail promotes economic growth, creates a valuable public asset, and connects people to new opportunities. Everyone benefits with more connections between our cities, towns, and institutions.
Here is an overview of some notable victories and defeats so far:
According to City leaders, Austinites voted in favor of Proposition A, which approves the City’s property tax rate and dedicates 8.75 cents of the operations and maintenance portion of the tax rate for Project Connect, Capital Metro’s $7.1 billion public transit plan.
Th plan includes a new rail service connecting the airport to downtown among other improvements, new and expanded bus service, electrifying the bus fleet, and a $300 million investment to assist communities affected by transit line construction.
San Francisco, CA
From the San Francisco Chronicle
The measure will allow a 1/8-cent sales tax increase in those counties and raise an estimated $108 million annually for 30 years. The sales tax averts a shutdown, funds electrification of the train line and provides dedicated funding for the next three decades. It also bankrolls an equity plan to provide fares at half-price to low-income riders as Caltrain tries to reshape its elitist image. Critics have pointed out that a majority of its riders make more than $100,000 a year. Its supporters argue Caltrain takes cars off the road and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
From the Seattle Times
Proposition 1. The six-year measure enacts a tax of 0.15%, or 15 cents on a $100 purchase, to generate $42 million a year. That money, to be collected starting April 1, replaces existing taxes that expire this Dec. 31, of .10% plus a $60 car fee. Total sales tax within Seattle will reach 10.15% including state, county and transit-agency shares.
According to the explanatory statement for Prop 1: “Beginning in 2022, more than half of the tax revenue spent annually will go to King County Metro services with over 65 percent of stops within Seattle, and to current and future RapidRide lines serving Seattle.”
From Willamette Week
The Metro Council’s $4 billion transportation measure would have invested in a Southwest Corridor MAX extension from Portland to Bridgeport Village and paid for bus line improvements and investments in 17 transportation corridors across the region, including lane expansions at Portland International Airport.
The defeat is a major setback for the region and is arguably the biggest defeat of the day. According to a statement from TriMet, “Over the next few months, we will work to conclude the Final Environmental Impact Statement and temporarily shut down the project while we explore a path forward.”
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