Local transit referenda passed in LA and Seattle, but failed in Kansas City and St. Louis. California voters also approved selling bonds to pay state matching funds for high speed rail.
As things always start on the west coast, I think Los Angeles offers us a glimpse of the future. If you want better transit, be prepared to pay for it. LA already pays a 1% sales tax for transit. Boosting it to 1.5% for a total tax rate of 8.75% gives them a very high sales tax rate, almost as bad as the 10.25% I pay here in Cook County. I’m really amazed that they were able to get over two thirds of people to vote for such a large sales tax increase with the down economy and extreme housing slump in California. Traffic must be really bad.
Ready for a Public Transit? Measure R Barely Passes
November 5, 2008
Measure R, the ballot initiative that sought to raise LA County’s sales tax a half percent on the dollar barely won by a 1% margin–it needed a two-thirds vote. Even though about 3.5 million county residents voted, over a million of those voters opted to not vote for the measure that is expected to bring in $40 billion in transportation funding over the next 30 years.
…To pass, the measure needed two-thirds to win–it barely passed with 67.41% of the vote. “It was unprecedented to get two-thirds of the vote in this environment — this is the worst economic environment since the Great Depression,” said Yaroslavsky early Wednesday.
Light rail getting a yes; I-985 is going down
By Mike Lindblom
Seattle Times transportation reporter
Sound Transit light rail was headed to victory Tuesday, while Tim Eyman’s Initiative 985 to help solo drivers was rejected.
The transit measure, Proposition 1, was far ahead in Snohomish County, with close to half the expected mail-in votes counted. It also took a huge lead in King County and was narrowly ahead in Pierce County.
I find the KC story interesting for two reasons. First, it’s a comparable city to Columbus in terms of population, geography, and land use, so it could be a good indicator for how a similar referendum would fare in the capital city. Second, KC has a relatively new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) route called MAX that I consider a model for how to improve transit on the cheap. There is a second MAX route on the way, and a detailed plan for regional expansion. Is MAX so popular that the people don’t feel they need light rail? Maybe they want it, but it’s not worth the money compared to nearly as good BRT service? Maybe, but it’s probably more about the economy than anything else.
Kansas City defeats plan for light-rail starter system
Wednesday, November 5, 2008 – 7:53 AM CST | Modified: Wednesday, November 5, 2008 – 9:48 AM
Kansas City Business Journal
Kansas City voters rejected an $815 million light-rail plan by a 56 percent-to-44 percent margin.
The plan called for devoting a three-eighths-cent sales tax toward construction of a 14-mile starter line running south from Vivion Road and North Oak Trafficway, continuing through Downtown and ending at 63rd Street and Bruce R. Watkins Drive.
MetroLink service may be cut after vote
St. Louis County voters rejecting tax
Wednesday, Nov. 05, 2008
With 93 percent of the vote counted, St. Louis County voters on Tuesday were rejecting a new half-cent sales tax aimed at raising $80 million per year.
Fifty-two percent, or 246,005 people, voted “no” and 48 percent, or 227,705 people, voted “yes” for the tax.
So when will Ohio get it’s high speed (or low speed) rail? Probably not before California given last night’s vote to fund it.
High-speed rail plan winning
Michael Cabanatuan, Chronicle Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
(11-05) 09:55 PST SACRAMENTO — California voters appeared to be climbing on board a plan to start construction of the nation’s first high-speed rail system.
With 95 percent of ballots counted, Proposition 1A was holding a steady lead.
The bond measure would approve the sale of nearly $10 billion in bonds as a down payment on an 800-mile high-speed rail network that would send electric trains zipping between Northern and Southern California at up to 220 mph.