State and Local Votes Reveal Widespread Support for Public Transit

There's a narrative to be built from the results of state and local elections on issues of public transit funding: voters continue to support more funding for public transit projects and programs.

2 minute read

November 5, 2020, 12:00 PM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Capital Metro Metrorail

Austin Metrorail at Downtown Station in 2010. | Michlaovic / Wikimedia Commons

Looking over the results of numerous votes on matters of transit and transportation funding from the November 3 election, the results show consistent support for new taxes and bonds to raise new money for mobility improvements.

The American Public Transportation Association has already tallied up the sum of the funding enabled by voters on November 3, coming up with the lofty figure of $38 billion. That figure increases the total from the November 2018 election, when voters approved $33 billion for transportation.

Kea Wilson takes a different angle in describing the accomplishment of transit and transportation at the ballot box: "A whopping 13 out of 17 major transit measures on state and local ballots across the U.S. yesterday passed, bringing the public transportation industry’s 2020 win rate at the ballot box to a stunning 92 percent."

Wilson also notes that the $38 billion in funding enabled by state and local voters outpaces the $11 billion spent by the Federal Transit Administration to public transit in the entire year of 2019.

Wilson lists the biggest wins for public transit. Including Project Connect in Austin, Measure RR to fund Caltrain in a three-county area of the San Francisco Bay Area, and Proposition 1 in Seattle.

One notable failure at the ballot box belongs to the "Get Moving" plan in Portland, Oregon, which Wilson notes was a broader transportation plan that included some funding for transit in addition to car-centric projects.

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