Election Day 2016: $200 Billion of Transit Funding on Line

The stakes are high this presidential election. Of course we probably don’t need to tell you that.

But funding for public transportation just raised the stakes even higher.

The American Public Transportation Authority recently reported that this upcoming Election Day will determine more than just the next leader of the free world — it will also directly impact the U.S.’s millions of public transportation riders and their communities.

Voters at the November 8th election can expect to see new ballot initiatives for local infrastructure improvements. This will be seen in Los Angeles, Seattle, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Clara County, CA, Atlanta, and Columbus, OH, amounting to a total of $200 billion in national public transportation ballot initiatives.

This is a much needed boost to public transportation funding, which has been severely lacking in recent years. Dramatic budget cuts have been occurring for quite some time, and back in June of 2015, new cuts to Department of Transportation programs reduced public transportation funding to its lowest in 14 years.

Even though public transportation budgets have seen continued cuts throughout the years, passengers are expecting better and better riding experiences. As technology continues to innovate and mobility demands increase, users are awaiting their city’s transportation to accommodate. While there are low cost options, like mobile ticketing, that transportation agencies can implement to improve the rider experience, infrastructure remains mostly untouched.

Phillip A. Washington, CEO of LA Metro, commented on what the ballot initiatives would mean for the Los Angeles community:

“If we are to create modern mobility and provide transportation options for ourselves and for future generations, we must remain fiscally responsible. That’s why Measure M – the Los Angeles County Traffic Improvement Plan – will appear on the Nov. 8 ballot. This bold plan came from the people, for the people, through a collaborative process where our partners across the county, and the general public, helped craft the way we position the region for current and future transportation needs. We know Measure M will be a game changer for Los Angeles and we’re excited about its potential to enhance quality of life for the people of our region.”

In addition to providing a more modern experience for public transportation riders, improvements in infrastructure could also mean a boost for local economies. According to the American Public Transportation Association, every one dollar invested in public transportation generates approximately $4 in economic returns. With these ballot initiatives, cities across the U.S. hope to spark economic growth and prosperity in their own communities.

Keith Parker, General Manager and CEO of MARTA in Atlanta, GA, strongly agrees with this sentiment:

“With this referendum, MARTA has a wonderful opportunity to increase mobility, create new jobs and spur economic opportunity across the city. We have worked diligently with city officials, as well as the public, to provide the voters as many options as possible for expanding MARTA in a robust way should the referendum be successful.”

Let’s not forget that public transportation has even more touch points that affect city goers, including traffic congestion, pollution, and overall quality of life.

Now, it’s just up to the voters.

The upcoming ballot initiatives are putting the power of public transportation in the people’s hands — with modern transportation, local economies, and much more on the line, voters will have to decide how the future of their local public transportation will look.