How transit campaigns are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, as transit agencies face decreased ridership due to social distancing, communities tough decisions about how to proceed with public transit funding measures for this year’s elections.
CFTE has been tracking measures that have postponed or cancelled planned elections as well as efforts still moving forward.
We outline below updates from measures that have been publicly reported.
Many other communities have not announced any changes to planned measures and are biding their time as developments unfold. You can stay up-to-date on all of this year’s planned elections at CFTE’s Campaign Tracker.
If your community is working on a ballot measure to fund public transit and you’re unsure of how to move forward in light of the pandemic, CFTE can help. Request campaign resources including talking points regarding COVID-19 here or contact us with questions at email@example.com (that address goes to the full team).
Lastly, we are planning to release additional resources in the coming days, including updates on local and legislative initiatives. Please check back on our website or subscribe to our mailing list for more information.
Postponed or Cancelled
GO Bend 2020 Bond – Bend, OR
The $190 million GO Bend 2020 transportation bond has been pulled from the May ballot. The City will reconsider the bond at a later date when conditions look more favorable for its passing.
FASTER Bay Area Sales Tax – Bay Area, CA
The coalition behind the FASTER Bay Area regional mega-measure announced that it would put its efforts to get the measure on the November ballot on hold in light of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Bus Sales Tax – King County, WA
King County officials announced that they no longer plan to seek a countywide tax measure to fund bus service in light of the pandemic, though a separate, citywide plan in Seattle to fund bus service may still move forward.
Back-Up All For Transportation Tax – Hillsborough County, FL
Hillsborough County commissioners voted to delay a hearing regarding a back-up All For Transportation Tax to 2021, effectively delaying a vote on the tax until 2022. The measure was meant to serve as a back-up if the All For Transportation Tax, approved by voters in 2018, gets struck down at the Florida Supreme Court.
Sales Tax – Orange County, FL
Mayor Jerry Demings of Orange County, FL announced that he would put his sales tax measure on the backburner for the immediate future due to the need to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sales Tax – Pinellas County, FL
Due to the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pinellas City Council decided to table a planned sales tax increase for transportation until the 2022 election cycle.
Elevate SD Sales Tax – San Diego, CA
Citing the current global pandemic, the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System announced it would put its campaign for more transit funding, dubbed ElevateSD, on hold for this election cycle.
Still Pushing Forward
Transportation Sales Tax – Sacramento County, CA
On March 25th, the Sacramento City Council became the first city council in the county to approve a transportation sales tax plan for the November ballot. While the plan still requires the approval of the remaining city councils by May in order to make the ballot, Sacramento City Councilors were comfortable moving forward with the plan “if the outcome proves reasonably positive with COVID-19.”
Transportation Bond – Statewide, Maine
On March 21st, Maine legislators placed a $105 million transportation bond measure on the statewide ballot for the June primary.
Sales Tax – Gwinnett County, GA
The Gwinnett County Commissioners will vote on April 7th to approve a list of projects that will be sent to the ATL Board for approval. The Commissioners could then put a measure to fund those projects on the November ballot. While it is unclear if the measure will be put on the ballot for this November, the Commissioners are currently on schedule to do so if they wish.
Sales Tax – Lucas County, OH
At an April 9th meeting, the board of the Toledo Area Rapid Transportation Authority (TARTA) voted to direct its General Manager to take the steps to place a measure on the November ballot to replace TARTA’s existing property tax levies (one of which is up for renewal on the primary ballot) with a sales tax.
Transportation Bond – Portland, OR
Oregon Metro, the government that oversees the Portland region, is considering hitting pause on a November transportation bond for the region. However, the government has until Aug. 15 to put the measure on the ballot, and is waiting to see how the situation develops before making any decisions.
Caltrain Sales Tax – San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara Counties, CA
Bay-area based agency Caltrain has continued to push forward with a measure for November, arguing that the current pandemic only highlights the need for dedicated funding. On April 1st, the San Mateo County Transit District’s Board of Directors voted to move forward with a 1/8 cent tax for Caltrain, which would be the first dedicated source of funding for the agency. The tax was considered an alternative to FASTER Bay Area should that measure not make it on the ballot. The vote of the SamTrans Board of Directors is the first of six at different agencies between the three counties required to put the tax on the ballot.
Public Safety and Transit Bond Measure – Anchorage, AK
In the April 7th primary, Anchorage, AK voted in favor of a bond measure for improvements to public transit and public safety.
TARTA Levy Renewal – Lucas County, OH
In the April 28th Ohio primary, 66% of voters in Lucas County renewed the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority’s 1-mill tax levy for the next 10 years. The levy was slated to expire at the end of 2020 if not renewed.
EORTA Levy Renewal – Belmont and Jefferson Counties, OH
In the April 28th Ohio primary, voters in Belmont and Jefferson counties renewed the Eastern Ohio Transit Authority’s tax levy with 73% of the vote.
Issue 7 Levy – Hamilton County, OH
In the April 28th Ohio primary, voters in Hamilton County passed the Issue 7 transportation tax.
BWAT Levy – Port Huron and Fort Gratiot, OH
In the May 5th election, voters in Port Huron and Fort Gratiot, OH, passed levys for Blue Water Area Transit.