T4America Blog

News, press releases and other updates

Spokane is one of a growing slate of cities considering transit ballot measures to help stay competitive and successful

With a ballot measure for transit looming this fall, T4America Chairman John Robert Smith traveled to Spokane, WA to speak to city officials, business leaders, and other community stakeholders about the long-term economic and social benefits of public transit investments.

Spokane residents will be deciding on an upcoming ballot measure that would improve the city’s existing transit infrastructure and provide operating funds for a new bus rapid transit line. Echoing his appeal in an op-ed in the Spokesman that ran shortly after his visit, John Robert called upon voters to consider how important transit access is not only for connecting all residents to jobs, but also for staying competitive and helping to keep some of the thousands of students from the region’s universities in town after graduation:

Is Spokane the kind of place where young, mobile, talented workers want to stay after they graduate? Will the Lilac City be able to compete with other midsize cities in the Pacific Northwest and beyond to attract a younger workforce and prosper for decades to come?

While these questions may have been addressed to the city of Spokane, it’s a question that scores of other mid-sized cities are attempting to answer right now. As we covered last week, Indianapolis will be going to the ballot this fall to dramatically expand and improve their bus system. Atlanta voters could approve adding more than $2.5 billion in new transit service. Raleigh could join other regions in the Triangle region by raising a small sales tax to begin beefing up transit service in the booming region. And larger metropolitan areas including Seattle and Los Angeles will vote on whether to raise new money for transportation and transit.

Young, mobile workers are increasingly locating in areas — big and small — that offer connected and dependable public transit, a movement that cities ignore at their own peril. Mayor Smith continued:

I heard a story out of Indianapolis recently (a city facing similar talent retention challenges as Spokane). A younger resident testified in the Statehouse about efforts to build a new system of bus rapid transit lines across the region. Lawmakers were told that “selling a city without transit to millennials is like selling a phone without a camera.”

Along with Spokane’s upcoming measure, T4America will be following these measures closely and watching these cities attempt to take crucial steps towards securing long-term economic success.