Mind the Funding Gap: Transit Financing in Los Angeles County and Metro Vancouver
Across North American cities, the demand for better public transit is pervasive, yet many local governments lack sufficient revenue to finance the construction of new infrastructure. To resolve this dilemma, some localities have turned to citizens directly, proposing temporary, earmarked, sales tax increases as a way to finance capital-intensive projects. Why have some communities been more receptive to this funding model than others? This study addresses this question by comparing the recent experiences of Los Angeles County (2008), where a ballot measure to raise money for transportation was successful and Metro Vancouver (2015), where a similar public vote was unsuccessful. The analysis demonstrates the importance of political trust, issue framing, policy design, and coalition-building when engaging public support. The findings offer important lessons for other municipalities looking to invest in their public transportation systems.