American voters back public transport spending

In a series of votes run alongside the US Presidential Election, voters in a number of American cities have largely backed increased spending on public transport initiatives.

Streetsblog has collated the results of votes across the country and says a two new light rail lines been approved on its third attempt in Austin, Texas costing $7.5 billion (£5.7 billion) funded through property taxes, which will also fund buses, a new tunnel and e-bikes. Nearby in San Antonio voters agreed to fund improvements to the bus network.

Voters in the San Francisco Bay Area have voted to save the Caltrain service, which has suffered a huge loss in fare revenue since Coronavirus hit, and was facing the prospect of shutting down altogether. Meanwhile in Seattle, voters renewed bus funding first introduced in 2014 that funds a large proportion of the network as part of an initiative to shift more trips onto public transport.

However in Portland, Oregon, voters rejected a $5 billion bid to improve public transport and fund a new light rail line. It would have been funded by a payroll tax, but Streetsblog say this was opposed by some major employers including Nike and Intel.

Funding of transport projects in the US is always an interesting study, because often the people living in an area have to approve the schemes and fund them through fuel tax or other means. This is seen as forcing supporters of schemes to ensure they are good value for money and deliver what the passengers demand.


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