Ballot Box Planning: Rail Referenda Implementation

Journal of Public Transportation Article in Volume 17, Issue 1 (2014) by Kate Lowe, Rolf Pendall, Juliet Gainsborough, & Mai Thi Nguyen

Metropolitan areas in the United States frequently finance new rail lines with local option taxes, and, as a result, rail plans and associated taxes often come before voters as ballot measures. Existing research finds that rail ballot measures are more likely to pass when taxes are linked to specific projects and planning has broad stakeholder involvement. Such studies, however, have not examined to what extent agencies implement voter-approved projects. This research fills this gap and finds the interrelated variables of ballot measure provisions, campaign supporters and strategies, and planned rail projects contribute to varied progress toward implementation in Denver, Houston, and Miami. In addition, a fourth variable, transit agency capacity, is critical for implementation and for securing federal support. Because electoral strategies may contribute to or mitigate implementation challenges, rail and regional advocates should weigh the long-term consequences of ambitious rail plans and consider transit agency capacity. View the full article or the entire Journal issue.

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