Here’s some good news: St. Louis citizens want robust mass transit, and they’re willing to pay for it. Despite a Tea Party opposition campaign, St. Louis County voters on Tuesday approved a half-cent sales tax increase to stabilize and eventually expand the region’s ailing transit network.
The measure passed by a monstrous 24 point margin. The St. Louis Tea Party focused its energy on defeating the civic project, calling the campaign a test run for defeating Democrats in this fall’s midterm elections. So it’s a setback for them.
But it’s good news for those wanting to get around the St. Louis metro area. The “proposition A” measure will restore bus lines that had been de-funded, pay for more frequent buses, prevent future cuts, and, eventually, expand the reach of transit further into area suburbs. The future cuts would have been drastic—about 50 percent of service and 650 jobs, beginning in June, according to Metro Transit Executive Director Robert Baer.
Even more interesting, voters defeated similar tax increases in 1997 and 2008.
In Los Angeles, too, voters approved a very similar tax on themselves in 2008—a half-cent sales tax increase to fund a large-scale electric rail system. And now they largely support Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s plan to build the network in 10 years instead of 30.
People want this stuff.