Contact: Eric Young, San Francisco County Transportation Authority
San Francisco voters are willing to invest more in transit and road improvements if they are assured that the funds will be dedicated to specific transportation expenditures, according to a new survey commissioned by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority.
The survey, conducted October 2-10 among likely San Francisco voters, highlighted four principal findings:
1. San Francisco voter demand for transportation improvements is high. Items garnering >70% ratings as “very important” include maintaining and enhancing existing Muni equipment and facilities to ensure safety and reliability, repaving and repairing streets, expanding BART, Caltrain and Muni service to reduce congestion, and providing paratransit services for seniors and disabled persons.
In order to help pay for these improvements:
2. Nearly three-quarters of San Francisco voters would support a $4 billion BART bond measure to maintain BART infrastructure and expand BART services;
3. Nearly two-thirds of voters (65%) initially support an additional half-cent sales tax for transportation improvements. That support rises to 68% with increased education about specific expenditures and assurance that funds would only be spent on transportation; (A dedicated sales tax increase would require a two-thirds vote.) and;
4. Support for an increase in the Vehicle License Fee by 1.35%, to the fee’s previous level of 2.0%, begins at 41% but rises to 56% with increased education about specific expenditures and assurance that funds would only be spent on transportation. (A Vehicle License Fee increase would require a majority vote.)
Transportation Authority Chair Scott Wiener requested the survey to better understand voters’ support for potential transportation revenue measures, which would help address burgeoning ridership on transit and the backlog of infrastructure maintenance.
“San Francisco and the region are undergoing unprecedented growth at a time when many key elements of our transportation infrastructure are due for replacement or repair,” said Chair Wiener. “Many aspects of our transportation system – including both transit and roads – are struggling to keep up, and our systems lack the capacity to meet the needs of our growing city and region. I am encouraged that the survey results indicate residents’ willingness to back transportation revenue measures that will help renew and expand our transportation system. In light of the continued uncertainty around transportation funding at the federal and state level, sustaining our local investments is critical.”
Tilly Chang, Executive Director of the Transportation Authority, underscored the importance of local revenues to the City’s ability to deliver transportation improvements. “As we advocate for increased funding from state and federal sources, our ability to provide local matching funds is essential to our competitiveness,” said Chang. “We have successfully leveraged our current local dollars to deliver major capital improvements over the past 25 years, but it’s not enough to meet our current needs and the public’s desired investments going forward.”
The Transportation Authority has administered the City’s existing half-cent sales tax for transportation since 1989, funding major capital projects such as the Third Street Light Rail and Central Subway projects and renovation of Doyle Drive, as well as transit, bicycle, pedestrian and roadway improvements and paratransit services throughout the city. The agency collects $100 million per year and estimates that each dollar it invests leverages $4-$7 of other local, regional, state, and federal funds.
The City administers a $500 million local transportation bond and general fund revenues for Muni that voters approved in 2014. These funds support transit and street maintenance and transit service improvement projects citywide.
The survey was conducted by Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz and Associates. It involved 801 telephone interviews on Oct. 2-10 with San Francisco residents likely to cast ballots in November 2016. Interviews were conducted in English, Spanish and Chinese and on landline and cell phones. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3.5% at the 95% confidence level. Some percentages may not sum to 100% due to rounding.
About the San Francisco County Transportation Authority
Created in 1989, the Transportation Authority spearheads long-range planning and allocates funding for transportation-related projects in San Francisco. The Transportation Authority administers the city’s half-cent transportation sales tax, the Prop AA $10 annual vehicle registration fee program and the Transportation Fund for Clean Air. The Transportation Authority also serves as San Francisco’s Congestion Management Agency and is the Treasure Island Mobility Management Agency. The Transportation Authority Board consists of the 11 members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, who act as Transportation Authority Commissioners. Commissioner Scott Wiener is Chair of the Board. Tilly Chang is the Transportation Authority’s Executive Director.