Photo courtesy of Washington State Dept. of Transportation
Intercity Transit bus in Island County, Washington
Vote for Transit!
Across Michigan — once the automobile capital of America — voters expressed their desire to keep their transit systems operating. Between 2003 and 2008, the city of Flint’s Mass Transportation Authority had an increase in ridership of almost 80 percent. On Election Day, Flint voters renewed their support for the city’s primary bus routes over the next five years. Meanwhile, three out of four voters in Kalamazoo supported a property tax increase to fund Metro Transit’s vanpool services and fixed bus routes. The owner of a property with a taxable value of $50,000 would pay $30 under this measure. The property tax is expected to generate approximately $1million annually and allow the Kalamazoo Metro Transit to continue providing more than 2.3 million miles of fixed-route service.
Not all elections were won by a landslide. In Fountain, Colo., a measure that allows a 0.75 percent increase to the city’s 3 percent sales tax passed by only 21 votes. The sales tax increase will be Fountain’s first in more than two decades, and will generate an estimated $1.35 million in its first year for paving streets, installing gutters, medians, curbs and sidewalks, and public transportation.
In Island County, Wash., voters in the primarily rural district responded favorably to an S.O.S. (Save our System) ad campaign by boosting funding for transit. Residents voted to increase the sales tax by three-tenths of one-percent and avoid a 35 percent service cut. Island Transit provides almost 1.4 million rides every year for free.
While these aren’t transit rich cities, voters clearly see the value of transit in their communities. As the second largest transit network in the country, leaders in our region need to do a better job of investing in our transportation network. We can’t take our transit system for granted.