WASHINGTON, D.C. In a call Tuesday, American Public Transportation Association (APTA) President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas and APTA’s Center for Transportation Excellence Executive Director Josh Cohen overviewed public transit’s record at the ballot box so far in 2020 and previewed what to watch in the general election. Sixteen measures representing over $38 billion in funding will be considered by voters in November.

Skoutelas and Cohen noted that, despite the tough environment across the country amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, public transportation has won at 32 out of 34 (94%) of elections this year. This includes 100% of the measures considered since mid-March, when the COVID-19 pandemic worsened. This includes the biggest successful measure of the year thus far, a sales tax in Hamilton County, OH (the Cincinnati metro area) that will provide $100 million annual funding for public transit.

“Year after year, voters across the country have overwhelmingly voiced their support for investing in more public transportation,” said APTA President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas. “The local and state initiatives on the ballot on November 3rd are vital to improve and expand public transit services, to spur economic development and job creation, and to connect communities and the people who live in them. These ballot initiatives once again underscore the importance of local, state, and federal partnerships in public transportation investment.”

“This is a change election and voters are tired of neglecting the core infrastructure that makes our communities go. Now is the time to invest,” said Josh Cohen, Executive Director of APTA’s Center for Transportation Excellence. “Voters understand that supporting transit isn’t just about transit,” Cohen continued. “It’s about greater equity, access to jobs and education, support for frontline workers and first responders, and investment in a sustainable, clean environment.”

“The success of public transit at the ballot box has been a testament to innovation, thoughtfulness, and the collaboration of the plans themselves,” Cohen continued. “These measures improve access and frequency to bus and rail, fund anti-displacement initiatives, make sidewalks and bike lanes safer — they’re bold and demonstrate voters’ hopes for the future.”

Cohen and Skoutelas went on to preview some of November’s biggest and most innovative transit measures. These include:

  • Prop A in Austin, Texas, which would make critical investments in bus and rail to manage Austin’s urban growth while providing hundreds of millions of dollars for community-led anti-displacement measures;
  • Measure 26-218 in Portland, OR, which would fund a large slate of transportation, transit, and safety improvements throughout the region to address historically inadequate transportation planning;
  • The Gwinnett transit referendum in Gwinnett County, GA, which would bring MARTA service, including light rail, BRT, and expanded bus service, to Gwinnett County.
  • Prop A in San Antonio, Texas, which would allow VIA Metropolitan Transit to continue to operate at its best capacity during the pandemic and beyond;
  • Measure RR in San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara Counties, CA, which would provide the first dedicated source of funding for Caltrain;
  • Prop 1 in Seattle, WA, which would renew a tax that funds bus service and subsidized pass programs for students and other groups; and,
  • The Mountain Line mill levy increase in Missoula, MT, which would, among other improvements, fund Missoula’s innovative Zero Fare program.

APTA’s Center for Transportation Excellence tracks all of the measures at its website and through its Twitter account, and will be providing updates as results come in.

For full audio of the call, please contact Ian Moor at ian@cfte.org.


The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is a nonprofit international association of 1,500 public and private sector organizations which represent a $74 billion industry that directly employs 435,000 people and supports millions of private sector jobs. APTA members are engaged in the areas of bus, paratransit, light rail, commuter rail, subways, waterborne services, and intercity and high-speed passenger rail. This includes: transit systems; planning, design, construction, and finance firms; product and service providers; academic institutions; transit associations and state departments of transportation. APTA is the only association in North America that represents all modes of public transportation. APTA members serve the public interest by providing safe, efficient and economical transit services and products.

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