Nashville Mayor O’Connell Announces November Transportation Referendum but Offers No Plan Details

Nashville Transit

Nashville Mayor Freddie O’Connell officially announced Thursday that there will be a public transit referendum on the November 5 ballot, however, did not reveal any specifics to his awaited transportation plan.

“After getting the green light on both legal and financial aspects of the process, the administration is putting a referendum in front of the voters on November 5,” O’Connell’s office said in a press release.

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Metro Councilman Jeff Eslick Says He Expects Nashville Mayor O’Connell’s Multimodal Plan to Be ‘Bus Intensive’

Jeff Eslick

Metro Nashville Council Member Jeff Eslick joined Thursday’s edition of The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy to discuss what may be included in Nashville Mayor Freddie O’Connell’s anticipated multimodal transportation plan.

O’Connell, who was elected mayor in last year’s runoff election, vowed during his campaign to address Nashville’s “infrastructure and transit concerns” and is expected to release a multimodal plan in the near future.

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Expert: Public Transit Unlikely to Return to Pre-Pandemic Levels

Public transit ridership has fallen since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic leading one expert to question if rates will ever return to pre-pandemic levels. 

A recent report by the American Public Transportation Association shows that total transit ridership in the United States stalled for the second time since the first quarter of 2021. Ridership grew for six of the seven quarters from the first quarter of 2021 to the fourth quarter of 2022. But there was a slight dip in the first quarter of 2023.

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Republicans Working with Hobbs to Extend Prop. 400 Public Transportation Sales Tax

Every few years, the Arizona Legislature works out legislation to extend the Prop. 400 public transportation tax. The half-cent tax, which started in 1985 to pay for roads but now also includes public transit and light rail in Maricopa County, faces strong opposition every time it comes up for renewal. Although the legislature mostly ended its 2023 session on June 30 after finalizing the budget, it is reconvening briefly next week to consider the extension.

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Study Finds Extensive Flaws in Plan to Extend Sales Tax for Expanding Light Rail in Maricopa County

Arizona Free Enterprise Club released a new report criticizing the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) proposed plan for the Prop. 400 half-cent tax.

The Prop. 400 half-cent tax, which started in 1985 to pay for public transit and then light rail in Maricopa County, faces strong opposition every time it comes up for renewal. 

The report said the MAG’s proposal fails to consider the permanent transformation of society due to COVID-19, which significantly reduced the number of workers using public transit as people shifted to working from home and remained there.

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Public May Not See Net Benefit of Infrastructure Bill That Could Expand Rail in Northeastern Pennsylvania

Much fanfare surrounding infrastructure legislation in Congress focuses on road and bridge improvements, but the bill’s implications for relatively costly rail transit in northeastern Pennsylvania and elsewhere have gotten far less attention.

The current proposal to spend $66 billion on Amtrak would be the largest federal expenditure on passenger rail since the creation of the transit agency.

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All Seven of Arizona’s Democratic Members of Congress Push for Earmarks, Republicans Don’t

Now that a 10-year ban on Congressional earmarks has ended, all seven Democrats in Arizona’s congressional delegation are requesting them. None of the four Republican members are. Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ-07) wants to beautify light poles and several of the members want to expand public transit. Many of them are getting their requests approved as part of the $2.1 trillion infrastructure bill, which is expected to pass into law soon.

Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ-06) told The Arizona Sun Times Friday that the earmarks aren’t necessary, since they are for the types of projects local and state governments generally cover.

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