An analysis of public preference for transportation investments and funding options: A focus on local option sales taxes
In response to the increasing devolution of transportation planning and fiscal responsibilities to local governments, voter-approved ballot initiatives are becoming an important source of much-needed revenue for transit and road transportation projects. There is a need for policy makers to identify the influential factors of voter approval of such initiatives and to predict the probability of success of an intended initiative. To address this research need, the present study utilized econometric and statistical tools using disaggregate data gleaned from voter revealed and stated preference surveys in California. The study determined that public preferences for transportation investments and funding alternatives, with respect to local option sales taxes, are influenced by factors such as voter socio-economic characteristics, perceptions of local government planning and funding capabilities, preferences for specific transportation investment types, and perceptions of existing traffic and road conditions. The marginal effects of public perceptions of traffic congestion were found to be lower than the corresponding values for other factors, particularly accountability for tax revenue expenditure and likely voters’ political affiliation, race, and their awareness of the availability and adequacy of public funds. Possible future applications of the developed models may include a rough estimation of the success probability of intended initiatives. The study results underscore the importance of linking the intended funding source to the type of transportation investments in any public funding policy requiring voter approval.^
Kumares C. Sinha, Purdue University.