2016 was a big—and successful—year for transit initiatives on ballots across the country. Wired has a nice article detailing some of the impetus for all of these referendums:
A year ago, Congress finally passed a longterm transportation bill, increasing federal funding but maintaining the status quo focus on cars and highways. It’s not enough, cities, regions, and states say, their roads still pitted, their regional transit visions unfunded. It hasn’t been enough in a long time.
So over the past three decades, local policymakers have turned away from Washington, using ballot referendums to ask voters to fund projects themselves. And this year, more than ever, US cities had a message for the feds: Fine, we’ll do it ourselves.
And do it they did!
- In Raleigh, NC, Wake County passed a 0.5% local sales tax to fund a $2.3 billion regional transit plan.
- Charleston, SC approved a 0.5% sales tax to help build their first BRT.
- Atlanta passed a four-tenths of a penny sales tax to expand their transit system—to the tune of $300 million over a five-year period.
- San Francisco raised property tax by an average of $35 to $55 per household to fund a $3.5 billion bond measure to begin rebuilding their 44-year-old transit system.
- New Jersey voted for a $0.23 gas tax which will generate more than $1 billion in new revenue for transit.
- Indianapolis voters approved an income tax increase of up to $0.25 on every $100 earned to pay for a 70% increase in bus service.
- Seattle's Sound Transit 3—a $54 billion, 25-year transit plan that will add 62 new miles of light rail and create new BRTs—will be funded by a property tax, sales tax, and car-tab tax increase.
And the full list is way, way longer! While our region didn't have anything transit-related on our ballots, a regional sales tax is one of the ways we could fund a truly regional transit system in Richmond.
This is becoming a common pattern. There is a strong urban consensus about what it takes to make a great city, and the will is there, among urban populations, to do what needs to be done.
This week you've got two opportunities to get involved:
- On November 15th and November 16th, you have the opportunity to check out the new Pulse Corridor Plan and give some feedback. These meetings are set up to answer questions about what development is going on in the Pulse corridor and how to make that development awesome. More details on those meetings can be found here.
- On Wednesday, November 16th join us at the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors meeting to show support for transit in Chesterfield.
AROUND THE REGION
One transit ballot initiative that failed this week (again) was the Virginia Beach extension of The Tide. The Virginia Beach City Council will now need to figure out if they want to move forward regardless of the public referendum.
The New York Times has an article about autonomous vehicles that I can get behind: Adorable, autonomous, electric buses in Helsinki.
PREVIOUSLY, ON RVA RAPID TRANSIT...