|Lessons on Transit From Other Communities
Denver voters joined those in St. Louis on November 4 in defeating major transit proposals. But a single election defeat is not the end. Seattle passed a nearly $4 billion package in 1996, only one year after a major defeat.
There were a number of similarities in the three cities' efforts and lessons to be learned in the concepts that affected defeat and victory. The following analysis was prepared on November 14, 1997:
Prepared November 14, 1997
Congestion remains a problem that Denver residents want solved. RTD continues to have the primary responsibility for transit alternatives, but the loss, and especially its magnitude, have created confusion among supporters for transit investments and a vacuum of power that may be filled by opponents of transit. Alternatives range from simply waiting a year or two and reintroducing a proposal of the same size and type to dropping all light rail investments or only emphasizing bus service improvements.
However, if RTD does not address light rail, the effort will likely proceed with state and local areas taking the lead.
The Seattle experience illustrates a variation in which a large initiative is defeated, then a more limited initiative is offered for corridors where a consensus exists. HOV, buses and light rail may all be components, but with a smaller cost.
The most likely scenario will see progress in the metro area, but it will be incremental and require a higher level of cooperation and pooling of resources.
No New Taxes - The current revenue source will not likely be augmented with new regional tax revenue for several years.
Incremental - Transit and highway improvements will be incremental, not comprehensive. The downside is an increase in the length of time between identifying a problem and realizing a solution, and more difficulty maintaining priorities and integrating solutions. The upside is that models of success can be created to build momentum for the next step.
Multi-Lateral Cooperation - Progress on transit and highway improvements in the metro area will require a strong coalition of interests. Groups have periodically joined for specific projects and issues in the past, but now sustained multi-lateral coordination is required.
Pooling Resources - Pooling resources will be the most critical aspect of the next phase of transit progress. Bonding ability of RTD, CDOT flexible funds, state surplus, city and county funds, and federal funding all need to be used.
Southeast Corridor Transit Priority - The Southeast Corridor has the highest level of leadership support for transit investment at this time.
Other Areas on List - While the Southeast Corridor should be the first focus, the MIS Corridors with completed studies also require funding strategies. Also, RTD, CDOT and DRCOG's studies of other corridors and aspects of the metro transit system should be coordinated and remain active.
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