Ballot measures, which increased or secured investment in public transit, earned the approval of voters in states from California to Connecticut, New Mexico to Maine, and Virginia to Florida on Tuesday.
Overall in 2018, public transportation won 30 of 36 ballot measures in primary and general elections, a win percentage of 83%, according to APTA. On Tuesday, voters passed 17 of 20 transportation-related ballot measures — an approval rate of 85%. Two measures remain undecided in San Mateo, Calif. and Flagstaff, Ariz. Over the past two decades, public transportation measures have won more than 70% of the time.
“The voters have spoken and put their vote, and hard-earned tax dollars, where they know it’s needed, by investing in public transportation,” said APTA President/CEO Paul P. Skoutelas. “From big cities to small municipalities, voters approved measures that will expand and improve public transit, spur economic development and job creation, and connect communities and the people who live in them. November 6 was a banner day for public transportation at the ballot box.”
In California, the effort to roll back fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees that pay for transportation and infrastructure projects in California was defeated by a strong majority.
Prop. 6, the so-called gas-tax repeal, would have overturned Senate Bill 1 — the Road Repair and Accountability Act. The bill passed the state Legislature by a two-thirds majority last year, adding 12 cents a gallon for gasoline, 20 cents for diesel, and increasing vehicle registration fees.
“People know you get what you pay for,” said Gov. Jerry Brown. “We have built hundreds of thousands of miles of roads and highways, and you got to keep them fixed up. Everybody knows, if you don’t fix your roof, it leaks.”
In Fla., voters approved Referendum Number 2 in Hillsborough County, which contained a 1% increase in the sales tax that expires in 30 years. Forty-five percent of the revenue generated is earmarked for the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit.
In Broward County, Fla., voters approved a proposal to levy a 1% sales tax for 30 years that will go to countywide transportation improvements.
Overall, $9 billion of the $15.6 billion in raised revenue will be for new light rail lines, while the rest of the revenue will go toward new and enhanced local bus routes, expanded paratransit and community shuttle service, bike lanes, smart signal technology for traffic lights to adapt in real time, and roadway drainage to prevent flooding.
Meanwhile ballot measures in Austin, Texas and Arlington County, Va., were overwhelmingly passed, with an 81% majority.
In Austin, voters approved Proposition G — a $160 million bond measure that will go to road, street, sidewalk, intersection, and pedestrian safety improvements and urban trails. In Arlington County, voters passed Bond Referendum 1, which will generate $74.57 million for a variety of transportation, road, pedestrian enhancement, and transit projects across the county. The largest components of the proposal are expected to be $44 million for Arlington County’s share of WMATA’s capital improvement program, and $21 million to fund a portion of the costs for paving local streets and roadways.
For a table of results of public transportation-related ballot measures, click here.