Among the issues facing communities around the country in the most recent general election were ballot measures for several transit related issues. The industry experienced a banner day as 15 out of 17 referendums achieved voter approval (with Gwinnett County in Georgia still too close to call). TransPro anticipates that the coming year will provide ample forums where industry leaders will discuss transit’s 92%+ win rate.
What can we take away from transit’s wins and losses on November 3? How do these outcomes challenge traditional perceptions of what it takes for transit to succeed?
This spreadsheet from the Center for Transportation Excellence Scorecard offers a look at the numbers. Here’s what pops out to us:
- Community Value is a key metric. Voters approved 100% of the ballot measures asking for renewed funding for existing service (8 out of the 18 that came up for a vote on November 3). The takeaway: When transit has proven itself as essential infrastructure in a community, residents seem to view it as a worthwhile investment.
- Red and Blue don’t seem to matter. Gwinnett County, GA, which voted 58.4% for President Elect Biden, failed to approve its $2.5 Billion transit expansion program. And Multnomah County, OR — home to Portland — failed to approve expansion funding a county that went 79.8% for Biden. Meanwhile, transit ballot measures in states that went for Trump (Montana, Texas, and West Virginia) were all solidly approved by voters.
- Culture wins. In looking at the big wins for transit in expansion programs such as Austin, San Antonio, and Seattle, we see a common denominator among organizations that have made intentional steps in recent years to prioritize customer experience, financial sustainability, and community value as measurable objectives for performance. These efforts continue to be cornerstones of building brand and awareness that cultivates future community investments.
The casual observer may think that traditional political markers are the primary indicator of transit’s success. However, election results like these tend to reinforce what TransPro already knows: that diligently working to improve the public’s impression of community value can deliver increased support for transit in any political landscape.