Spotlight on Measure M

Spotlight on Measure M

July 26, 2019  | Robert Puentes

This week, Eno released an important new paper from UCLA’s Michael Manville about one of the most significant transportation ballot measures in recent years. Los Angeles County voters approved Measure M in November 2016. The fact that a transit measure passed is, in itself, not much of a surprise. Eno has tracked these measures across the country for a number of years now and transit projects are consistently popular.

What makes Measure M so important is its scale and scope, the unique conditions of getting a ballot measure passed in California, and the coalition necessary to deliver on the Measure’s ambition. These are the issues Manville addresses in the paper.

In total, voters across the United States were presented with about $75 billion in transportation measures in 2018. About 77 percent of those passed, resulting in an average of $288 million. In fairness, some of the measures were quite small but it is still noteworthy that Measure M is expected to generate $120 billion over forty years. (That’s billion with a B.) What’s more, Measure M has no sunset. The voters approved the ½ cent sales tax boost in perpetuity.

On top of that, California law requires most tax proposals to secure a two-thirds super-majority to pass. Los Angeles County’s magnitude and diversity increased the challenge involved in fashioning a single measure that needed such a margin. That was compounded by the fact that Los Angeles is simultaneously a large transit market and a market where most voters never use transit. A transformative ballot measure therefore needed to make transit expenditure appealing to voters with little personal experience using transit.

To get there, the report emphasizes the long and careful process of coalition building that made the measure’s success possible. A range of stakeholders contributed ideas to the regional transportation authority—Los Angeles Metro—for projects, and a transparent and agreed-upon process winnowed those ideas down into a final project list and sequence. This process resulted in Measure M finally appearing on the ballot with what the report calls “a strong consortium behind it, and little organized opposition in front of it.” Without the coalition, Measure M’s odds of passage would certainly have been much lower.

The report delves into other particular reasons why Measure M is an unquestionable political achievement but its impact extends far beyond Southern California. As Eno continues to comprehensively catalog, analyze, and assess transportation measures at the ballot box, the lessons from Measure M and others hold important lessons for other places as they embark on their own campaigns.

Share

Related Articles

The Journey to Making Transportation Available to Everyone

The Journey to Making Transportation Available to Everyone

When I think of an ideal future for transit, I envision a system that can and will be universally utilized by most, if not everyone, in...

Addressing Transportation Disparities by Embracing the Future of Mobility

Addressing Transportation Disparities by Embracing the Future of Mobility

The COVID-19 pandemic elevated our collective awareness of transportation disparities. Frontline workers have lower wages on average, are...

Community-Supported Plan Fuels Transportation Transformations

Community-Supported Plan Fuels Transportation Transformations

Sometimes neighborhood plans sit on the shelf—but sometimes they contain the right ingredients, bring together the right partners, and...

States 'Drive the Bus' for Rural, Small Urban, & Specialized Transit... Not Just Literally!

States 'Drive the Bus' for Rural, Small Urban, & Specialized Transit... Not Just Literally!

While they do not usually operate transit, state departments of transportation (DOTs) certainly “drive the bus,” metaphorically...

Toward a Multimodal California: How the State is Investing in Walking, Biking, and Transit

Toward a Multimodal California: How the State is Investing in Walking, Biking, and Transit

In the summer of 2011, I said goodbye to the 1997 Honda Accord I had driven since high school. Rather than upgrading to a newer vehicle,...

Webinar: Planning for People: The History and Future of Inclusive Transit Planning

Webinar: Planning for People: The History and Future of Inclusive Transit Planning

Who was transit built for? For what purpose? And how has that approach changed? Join Eno for a webinar that will answer these questions and...

Pivoting from Mobility on Demand to Food Delivery: Lessons from the MOD Pilot in Los Angeles

Pivoting from Mobility on Demand to Food Delivery: Lessons from the MOD Pilot in Los Angeles

The COVID-19 pandemic prompted transit agencies across the country to quickly modify service, protect the health of passengers and drivers,...

Webinar: What is next for MOD: Lessons from Los Angeles’ MOD Pilot During COVID

Webinar: What is next for MOD: Lessons from Los Angeles’ MOD Pilot During COVID

In January 2019, LA Metro launched a first-mile, last-mile mobility on demand (MOD) pilot with Via, offering shared rides to and from...

Guest Op-Ed: The Rise of Delivery as a Service

Guest Op-Ed: The Rise of Delivery as a Service

Everyday life entirely changed for most when the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 to be a global pandemic on March 11, 2020. Out...

Infrastructure measure includes fund to ensure nation’s transit stations are accessible

Infrastructure measure includes fund to ensure nation’s transit stations are accessible

Lawmakers have tucked a dozen or so similar funds into the package, according to an analysis by Jeff Davis, a senior fellow at the Eno...

Eno Releases New Mobility on Demand Reports with Data Insights and Recommendations

Eno Releases New Mobility on Demand Reports with Data Insights and Recommendations

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, public transit in the United States was going through a very dynamic period. The FTA's MOD Sandbox...

Mobility on Demand in the Puget Sound Region: Evaluation of the Use and Performance of the MOD Pilot

Mobility on Demand in the Puget Sound Region: Evaluation of the Use and Performance of the MOD Pilot

Mobility on Demand in the Puget Sound Region is part of our research report series examining the FTA Sandbox Program in the Los Angeles and...

Be Part of the Conversation
Sign up to receive news, events, publications, and course notifications.
No thanks