Yesterday, Missouri voters had the opportunity to vote on Amendment 7, a three-fourths of one percent increase in Missouri’s sales tax dedicated to the improvement of priority transportation projects in Missouri. While Amendment 7 may have failed at the polls, it was a historic move on the part of the Missouri legislature. For the first time, Missouri voters had the opportunity to weigh in on a dedicated funding source for all modes of transportation including public transit.
“Passage of Amendment 7 by Missouri voters to support transportation as a top priority was a monumental effort. While Amendment 7 was not successful in winning a majority of the votes, for the first time in Missouri history, voters had the opportunity to vote on a total transportation funding package including public transit. State funding for public transit and a comprehensive multimodal transportation system remains one of the most significant challenges facing Missouri.” said Kim Cella, executive director of Citizens for Modern Transit.
“CMT greatly appreciates the participation of all CMT members and supporters in this very important dialogue on transit and a state funding source for transit in the future,” added Cella.
The CMT Board of Directors weighed the options very carefully before endorsing Amendment 7. After many discussions with St. Louis City, St. Louis County and MoDOT, the list moved closer to creating a vision for the future of transit, including the addition of light rail station and studies for future expansion and funding.
Currently, Missouri ranks near the bottom of the list nationally with regard to transit funding. In the current year, Metro received less than $400,000 in state funds for transit operations; Metro’s annual budget is in excess of $250 million.
According to the American Public Transit Association, every dollar invested in transit returns four dollars to the region. Millennials, older adults and immigrants are demanding more public transit options. According to AARP, older Missourians increasingly rely on public transportation resources like city bus services and OATS. Nationally, more than 8 million adults aged 65 and older do not drive. Public transportation is seen as a “lifeline” for older adults.
“Special thanks goes to the CMT membership, Board of Directors and volunteers for helping CMT share the transit message on Amendment 7. We will now look towards the next legislative session to continue to advocate for a state funding mechanism for public transit. Public transit is a critical part of this state’s transportation needs, and CMT will continue to encourage the State of Missouri to step up for transit,” said Don C. Musick, III, Chair of the CMT Board of Directors.
For more information about Citizens for Modern Transit, visit www.cmt-stl.org or call (314) 231-7272. Also find CMT on Facebook or follow them on Twitter @cmt_stl.