Voters on November 8 approved pro-transit ballot initiatives in Durham, N.C., and Vancouver, Wash., while defeating one anti-transit measure in Cincinnati. Still unknown is the result of a statewide initiative in Washington State that would place stricter restrictions on tolls and prevent use of funds for public transit.
"People on the local level want, and deserve, safe, reliable public transportation services that enhance their quality of life," said American Public Transportation Association President and CEO Michael P. Melaniphy. "Even though the economic downturn continues, Americans are showing at the ballot box that they are willing to invest in public transporatation. This investment is critical as our population grows, and demand for public transit services increases."
In Durham County, N.C., voters approved a half-cent sales tax that will improve bus service and bring commuter rail and light rail to the county. The Durham Area Transit Authority is experiencing record ridership; in October 2011, it served the highest number of monthly trips in its history.
In Vancouver, Wash., voters passed a 0.2 percent sales tax increase to support the Clark County Public Transportation Benefit Area Authority, which operates C-TRAN.
Not all of the public transportation initiatives on the ballot involved raising new funds. In Cincinnati, voters rejected an effort to prohibit the city from spending money on any rail project until 2020.
These election results bring the total so far in 2011 to 21 victories in 27 public transit elections. These numbers reflect a long-term trend: since the year 2000, more than 73 percent of public transit ballot measures have passed.
For a complete list of 2011 transportation state and local ballot initiatives, go to the CFTE website at www.cfte.org.