Transportation

Advocates: 60 percent of transit initiatives approved by voters

Curtis Compton

Sixty percent of transit initiatives before voters on Election Day this week were approved, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is touting. 

The group said 15 out of 25 local transit initiatives, totaling more than $6 billion, were approved during Tuesday’s elections, despite widespread gains in many areas of the country for Republicans who campaigned on reducing government spending.

APTA President Michael Melaniphy said the election results showed voters want lawmakers to boost public transportation funding at the federal level quickly in the next Congress. 

{mosads}“While American voters have become more discerning on what issues to support with their tax dollars, citizens continued to vote to overwhelmingly support public transportation ballot initiatives because it helps to grow their communities,” Melaniphy said in a statement.  

“These votes serve as affirmation of the strong bi-partisan support that public transit initiatives enjoy throughout the country,” he continued.  “Voters place great value in public transit and are willing to vote to tax themselves to invest in their communities.”

Federal law dictates that 20 percent of all transportation spending approved by Congress go toward transit, but lawmakers have struggled to find a way to close an approximately $15 billion gap in annual infrastructure funding that has developed in recent years. 

The normal funding source for transportation projects is revenue that is collected by the 18.4 cents per gallon federal gas tax. The tax has not been increased since 1993, however, and it is struggling to keep pace with infrastructure expenses as cars become more fuel efficient. 

The last multi-year transportation bill approved by Congress, in 2012, included approximately $50 billion per year in road and transit spending, but the gas tax is only bringing in about $34 billion per year. 

Transportation advocates have pushed Congress hard to approve a multi-year transportation bill earlier this year, but lawmakers could only muster an approximately $11 billion temporary extension to cover the transportation shortfall until next May. 

Tags American Public Transportation Association Gas Tax Highway bill Highway Trust Fund MAP-21 Reauthorization
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