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At Least Some Transit Measures Did Well On Election Day

Los Angeles, Seattle, and other cities voted for a better-planned future. And while Trump has promised infrastructure money, it will almost certainly be for the wrong infrastructure.

At Least Some Transit Measures Did Well On Election Day

[Photo: Flickr user Oran Viriyincy]

There may be a silver lining (a gold lining may be more appropriate) to Trump's ascent into the White House. Trump likes building things, from skyscrapers to Mexican walls, and while anything out of the president elect's mouth shouldn't be taken as close to truth, he did campaign on infrastructure spending.

Yesterday, while America was at the ballots choosing a man—any man—over a woman for president, it also voted on local issues, including lots of transit policies. The Eno Center for Transportation has a list of transit-only ballot measures, sorted by state, while the Transport Politic's Yonah Freemark is tracking the results as they come in. "If passed," says Freemark, "referenda in dozens of cities could expand funding for transportation across America."

[Photo: Flickr user Neon Tommy]

Plans include Los Angeles Measure M, a massive $120 billion expansion of the city's transit network, stretching off into the next 40 years (currently winning with a 67% yes vote), and Seattle’s Sound Transit 3, which will add 62 miles of light rail linking cities along Puget Sound, and a new bus rapid transit service (also currently winning).

Freemark's list (and accompanying spreadsheet of results) only includes measures that are exclusively about transit. Anything that has other kinds of funding mixed up in it is off the list, if only because there are too many to track.

If Trump manages to keep his promise, though, he might be spending on the wrong kind of infrastructure. "It is worth emphasizing that the Republican Party has repeatedly argued for the elimination of federal funding for transit, bike, and pedestrian programs while maintaining federal support for highways," writes Freemark.

Human Transit's Jarrett Walker, a consulting transit planner, argues that cities will have to look after themselves. He posits that the federal role in city infrastructure will shrink, and that cities will become more autonomous as a result. "Nobody really knows what lies ahead for the U.S., but we are probably heading into a period when cities and metro areas must do even more to take care of themselves," he writes. "And there’s lots of evidence, from last night, that urban populations know that."

That evidence includes the success in Seattle, and tax hikes in Raleigh, and Indianapolis to raise money for public transit.

When it comes to voting for improvements at home, then, it seems U.S. voters are lot more level-headed and forward-thinking than when they are voting for a president who plans to wall of the bottom end of the country and send the bill to Mexico.

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