Ballot box planning: Rail referenda implementation

Kate Lowe, Rolf Pendall, Juliet Gainsborough, Mai Thi Nguyen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-98
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Public Transportation
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Transportation
  • Urban Studies


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