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Voters Overwhelmingly Support Public Transit

Public transit won big on the ballot this year, with results across the country showing that voters overwhelmingly support transit issues and investments in their communities. Voters approved 15 of 18 local ballot measures supporting public transit in the general election—adding to 32 measures passed earlier this year.

Transit ballot measures had a 90%-win rate in 2020, showing Congress that voters support investments in public transportation. Across the country, from smaller communities and large cities, in red and blue states, voters united to vote for improved and expanded public transportation.

Key Public Transit Victories

Some regions took small but significant steps to expand their public transportation systems. Other communities went big and committed to transforming their public transportation systems in the years ahead. Here are just a few of the victories for public transportation:

  • Austin, Texas—Voters in the fast-growing capital of Texas approved a measure that will fund new light rail lines, subway lines, and expanded bus service.
  • Missoula, Montana—Missoula voters approved a measure that expands the hours and reach of the region’s Mountain Line service; funds new all-electric buses; and enables people to continue riding for zero fare.
  • San Francisco-Bay Area, California—A collective super-majority of voters—more than 2/3rds—in three California counties approved a measure to provide dedicated funding to the Caltrain system, the commuter rail line serving Silicon Valley and the South Bay.

Public transportation also scored ballot measure victories in Oregon, Michigan, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia.

Looking Ahead to a New Congress and a New Administration

Democrats will continue to hold the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives next year. We won’t know which party leads the Senate until after two runoff elections in Georgia, which will be held on January 5. We expect transportation and infrastructure to be part of next year’s congressional agenda, regardless of the outcome of the remaining Senate races.

Congress united across party lines to support public transportation in September when it extended the 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act for one year. This extension expires in September 2021, and we are in need of a long-term bill that will help transit systems across the country innovate and plan for the future.

Congress also provided initial COVID-19 emergency funding for public transportation—though additional emergency funding is urgently needed to enable public transit systems to continue safely operating for the duration of the pandemic. This emergency funding helps maintain safe, reliable operations and cover increased costs to protect the health and safety of both riders and employees.

President-Elect Biden has been a champion for public transit throughout his career in public service. The public transit industry is looking forward to working with President-elect Biden, Vice President-elect Harris, and Congress to move our country forward and build the public transportation infrastructure of the future that helps rebuild our economy.

All Americans—Democrats and Republicans alike—depend on infrastructure investment. We drive on the same roads, cross the same bridges, and ride the same public transit systems. Public officials have historically united to support public transportation—and we will be calling on lawmakers in 2021 to once again stand up for public transit. Our nation’s future mobility depends on it. Will you join us next year in helping a new Congress and the Biden/Harris administration understand the importance of investing in public transportation?

Categories: Covid-19 Election