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53 SECTION 6.0 Local and Regional Funding Database and Its Use The database accompanying this report (available at http:// Length of time the tax/fee is authorized; provides additional Date of first enactment and latest increase/extension; background information on the local and regional funding Availability of debt or bonding authority, applicable limits, sources in use by the public transportation systems interviewed and sources committed to service debt; and for this research. Below is a brief synopsis of the data elements Reasons for enacting the tax/fee and perceived advantages contained in the database. A more in-depth user manual devel- and disadvantages. oped for each user is also available on the TRB website at 6.1 Access to the Resource For each public transportation system, information on sev- Information eral factors was captured in a database, including the following: The information contained in the database can be accessed Urban or rural character of the service area or region; as follows: Transit agency organizational structure, e.g., municipal/ First, the database provides a series of standardized reports county unit, regional authority, or for-profit/non-profit; Special characteristics of the transit market, e.g., tourist des- that cross tabulate information on local and regional fund- ing sources with characteristics of the individual transit agen- tination, college/university community, or social service cies. These include reports on individual funding sources center; sorted by population, fleet size, organizational type, and 2000 urbanized/urban/rural population; mode as well as reports that provide an aggregated listing Types of transit services operated, e.g., bus, demand of systems organized by each funding source type and its response, or light/heavy/commuter rail; related rate and yield. Peak bus fleet size; Alternatively, interested users are also invited to do their Annual revenue vehicle miles and hours operated; own queries of the material based on their ability to work Annual ridership; within the database system (MS Access). Annual operating and capital expenses; Farebox recovery ratio; and Recent major service improvements. 6.2 Updating Local and Regional Public Transportation Funding For each funding source noted by a system, additional Resource Material information was compiled on the following: Local and regional transit funding initiatives are being under- taken on a continuing basis around the country. As the inter- Type and nature of the funding source; views for this project suggest, there are sources that are widely Number and type of jurisdictions using the funding source; used throughout the industry by systems of varying size, partic- Base, rate, and annual yield of the funding source; ularly sales taxes and property taxes. The explanation for heavy Extent of dedication to transit; reliance on these sources is that they are broad-based sources; Use for capital investment and/or operating expenses; they yield the largest and most predictable revenue streams; and Political or policy basis for the tax/fee, e.g., statutory (local they generally have proven to be broadly acceptable to the pub- and/or state) or administrative action; lic and elected officials.

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54 Nonetheless, a wide variety of other funding sources are The National League of Cities (NLC), being explored and enacted in an equally wide variety of The U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM), contexts and circumstances. In the face of increasing inter- The National Association of Counties (NACo), and est in expanded transit services and the continuing rise in The Association of Metropolitan Planning Organiza- service costs, the search for new or enlarged funding sources tions (AMPO). will undoubtedly continue. To keep the information pre- In addition, other national organizations are likely to have sented here and on the accompanying database current, there interest in this topic and/or information on funding sources, are several strategies that might be employed, including e.g., the American Public Works Association (APWA), the the following: Municipal Finance Officers Association (MFOA), the Inter- national City/County Management Association (ICMA), as Capturing information from existing reporting on new well as a host of state-based organizations. funding initiatives. With limited effort, the annual work The possibility of collaboration among these groups to and online reporting of CFTE on new state and local tran- figure out how to share available information and the most sit funding initiatives and/or referenda could be tracked, appropriate ways to do this sharing should be explored. and new information could be added to the current Case studies through TCRP synthesis projects. Historical interview data. In some cases, follow-up inquiries might detail on why specific funding sources were pursued and be necessary to establish the full range of information how is quickly lost with turnover in staff as well as policy- desired. Simply adding this information to Table 3.2 of makers. It may be important, therefore, to periodically this report, which shows the systems using specific frame inquiries into and analyses of the "whys" and "hows" sources in various population groups, would be a valu- of selected local and regional funding initiatives. This inquiry able enhancement. and analysis could be accomplished through a series of Regular surveying of state DOT transit managers and state structured case studies that seek to document circumstances transit association directors. Both of these groups of peo- and processes involved in securing local and regional fund- ple proved invaluable to this research in identifying new or ing in greater than usual detail. These case studies could be unique sources of local and regional funding around the the subject of periodic TCRP syntheses, as is presently done country. These people will likely be aware of most of the in the synthesis series with a number of key topics. future local and regional funding initiatives as well. These two groups, through AASHTO and APTA, might be polled Now that TRB has provided the initial information through or surveyed on a regular basis to identify new local and this project's research, it is logical that responsibility for main- regional sources that are under consideration or have been taining up-to-date information should fall to the transit enacted. At the very least, these activities could serve as a industry. A model for this might be the procedure that evolved starting point for expanding current information on a reg- for assembly and updating of comprehensive information on ular basis. the structure, content, and scope of state transit funding pro- Collaboration with local public interest organizations. grams. This procedure began with TCRP's support of the ini- The transit industry's interest in local and regional transit tial data development, guided jointly by APTA and AASHTO; funding sources is shared by a number of other major long-term data updating and assembly has been carried out national public interest organizations representing local in 2-year cycles by the U.S. DOT's Bureau of Transportation governments and officials, including the following: Statistics (BTS).