Final numbers from last week’s election indicate that support for transit construction and operation initiatives remains strong across the country.
Out of a total of 17 local or regional transit proposals on the ballot, 15 won voter approval.
In a statement after the voting, Paul Skoutelas, chief executive officer of the American Public Transportation Association, remarked: “Even during this pandemic and economic downturn, voters have spoken and pledged their vote where they know it’s needed—public transportation investment.”
Two Texas propositions, one in Austin and the other in San Antonio, providing additional operational support, were overwhelmingly approved by voters, while a ballot question asking for a mill levy increase to support improvements to the Mountain Line system in Missoula, Montana, also proved successful.
Not all of the election news was good for transit enthusiasts. In a close contest, voters in Gwinnett County, Georgia rejected a 30-year sales tax that would have provided more than $12 billion for the expansion of the local transit system. This marks the second time Gwinnett voters have turned down a transit funding proposal.
In one of the larger proposals, voters in Bend, Oregon overwhelmingly approved a $190 million bond designed to pay for a series of capital transportation projects.
That bond will pay for the building of a two-lane roundabout, a trail overcrossing railroad tracks, and a new pedestrian and biking system.
Perhaps because of the pandemic economy, many cities and counties this year declined to place transit bond questions on the ballot this year.
This year’s voting took place against a backdrop seeing an estimated 76% drop in transit ridership nationally, which industry experts say is attributable to the Covid-19 outbreak and subsequent national economic lockdown.
By Garry Boulard
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