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50 SECTION 5.0 Enacting New Funding Mechanisms for Public Transportation 5.1 Steps for Successful For a plan or program of investments to be funded, leg- Implementation of New or islators, community leaders, and voters must be confident Enhanced Funding Mechanisms in the specific investments proposed, the benefits expected, and the rationales for each element. Experience has shown Over the past decade or so, important lessons have emerged that, until recently, legislators and/or voters have been re- from around the country on the steps that are necessary to luctant to support new funding initiatives unless they in- successfully propose and enact new or enhanced funding clude the following: mechanisms for public transportation. Legislative initiatives Mixes of improvement types, e.g., highway, transit, and and popular referenda require the same basic steps to succeed non-motorized improvements;76 in implementing new or enhanced revenue sources. These Specific improvements and projects; steps are the following: Balance (however "balance" is defined locally, e.g., re- sources directed to local as well as regional priorities and Develop a consensus on the scope of current and future problems) in the location of improvements; transit needs and on the importance of actions to address Clear rationales, including the expected benefits as well them. as the consequences of failing to act; and Public transportation needs and funding should not Sound arguments and documentation to deflect issues be separated. The perception of a need is the most pow- that critics may raise over the proposed investment pro- erful motivator for funding decisions. The expression of gram and/or funding strategy. needs must include not only a clear statement of the ben- Identify clearly established roles, responsibilities, and efits of the investment, but also a statement of the vari- procedures for executing the funding and investment ous costs of not making the investment. In order to trig- strategy and implementing the proposed improvements. ger broad-based support for new funding for transit Intergovernmental roles and relationships must be clearly investment, a consensus must be established that trans- spelled out with regard to how investment decisions are to portation problems exist that, if unaddressed, will have be made, who and what organization(s) are responsible for broad and unacceptable consequences for citizens, busi- execution of the program, and how agencies and organiza- ness, and industry. tions are to partner for the program to succeed. There must Typically, a wide-ranging dialogue is needed on the be no ambiguity, and the legislators and community leaders scope and nature of the transportation challenges and on and citizens must have trust in the agencies and processes to the consequences of not acting, i.e., a coordinated effort is be used in committing the new resources. needed, as described in the later steps, to educate various In addition, actions must be taken--legislative, regula- stakeholders and community leaders through a compre- tory, and administrative--to ensure that the respective hensive public education campaign that draws on com- agencies and organizations have adequate authority to col- plete and credible information and analysis. lect, expend, and encumber revenues; incur debt; contract; Develop a specific plan and program of investments for which additional funding is needed and demon- 76More recently, legislators and voters have enacted, or are poised to enact, strate the benefits that are expected from the proposed substantial independent transit-specific funding initiatives, including mea- investments. sures in Seattle, San Francisco, and Denver.

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51 and undertake other activities necessary to fully execute the Financial support from nongovernmental sources in program. State legislative actions may be necessary as well amounts of several hundreds of thousands of dollars to as legislative actions by local jurisdictions. Memorandums underwrite a sustained, multiyear campaign; of Understanding (MOUs) and other formal mechanisms Participation of experienced public relations and legal may be necessary to ensure that clear lines of authority and professionals to advise and conduct elements of the effective procedures are in place to budget, obligate, and campaign; oversee the expenditure of new funds. Extensive and continuous monitoring of public opinion Describe the funding sources in detail and provide the to help shape the investment program, identify the rationales for their use. sources of funds, and build the institutional structure to There may be several funding sources for consideration in be used; increasing transit investment. Selecting the most appropri- Preparation to both understand and rebut arguments ate sources(s) requires a thorough evaluation of the alterna- from opponents; and tives across a number of key criteria (as previously noted) Preparation of a wide range of activities and products and an understanding among stakeholders, citizens, and for use in presenting issues and proposals to the public, community and political leaders of the rationales for pursu- including both electronic and print media strategies, a ing particular sources. range of public education materials, and spokespersons Design and carry out a public education and advocacy and materials needed to make regular presentations to plan and campaign.77 the public and various interest groups. The act of raising new funds for transportation invest- Develop sustained leadership and demonstrable, sus- ment (or any other worthy public purpose) involves the tained support. equivalent of a political "campaign" since it is likely that for- Every campaign requires enlightened, sustained, and ac- mal public approval will be required at some point, either tive leadership from individuals and organizations that are through referenda or through the legislative or administra- recognized as community leaders. Typically, this means tive actions of elected officials. that champions for the initiative must be recruited from As with any campaign, both sustained leadership and business, industry, and politics. It also means, as men- adequate funding are needed. Typically, campaigns rely tioned above, constant, up-to-date understanding of pop- on regular polling to test public response while prob- ular sentiment around the issues involved and the propos- lems, plans, rationales, and funding alternatives are pre- als being considered and advocated. sented and discussed. In addition, a full range of com- Leadership plays a key role in arriving at final funding munications strategies and products are needed to ensure proposals and investment plans, advocating those propos- that the public education process is comprehensive and als actively in the community, and responding to criticisms continuous. that are inevitably raised when new public revenue-raising In successful cases of regional transportation funding ini- initiatives or specific projects are proposed. tiatives in Houston, San Diego, St. Louis, and Seattle, public Lay out a clear and reasonable timetable. education and advocacy efforts have shared several charac- Transportation funding initiatives typically take many teristics that should be considered in any effort to raise new months to plan, detail, promote, and enact. A typical transit or transportation revenues. Among the most impor- timetable may involve 2 years or more, depending on the tant of these characteristics are the following: scope of the issues involved, the knowledge of community Sustained involvement of effective leaders, with an em- leaders and the electorate, "friction" in the political arena phasis on participation by influential individuals and over public service priorities and revenue raising, and the community leaders from outside the ranks of elected potential for bipartisan consensus building and decision officials; making. Sustained support from key elected officials at all levels; It also is not uncommon for a new transit or transporta- Formal involvement of stakeholders and citizens repre- tion funding initiative to fail on the first attempt to garner senting the broadest array of interests and organizations; public approval. While the percentage of transportation Creation of formal coalitions or organizations to co- funding initiatives approved in recent years has risen, there ordinate, direct, and channel resources and advocacy are always examples of initiatives turned down at the polls activities; largely because one or more of the steps noted above was not carried out effectively. 77 The Center for Transportation Excellence provides useful information on Researchers at the Institute of Transportation Studies at advocacy strategies and techniques at the University of California at Berkeley sharpened the focus