The Case for Transit Funding in Texas

One Thousand Texans for Transit, Uncategorized

If you’re reading this in a major Texas metro, you are currently experiencing about 1/3 the transit funding than you would experience in the other largest major US metros.

There is less bus frequency, less places you can get to by transit, less high quality rapid transit options, less fiscally productive real estate investment, and more people having to drive a lot more than they would like to.

We presented the following one pager to the Texas House Committee on Appropriations – S/C on Articles VI, VII & VIII Committee, as they had their initial discussion of the Texas Department of Transportation budget. You can see the testimony at 4:05:45 in this video.

One Pager:
A majority of 28 million Texans – growing to 50 million soon – want better public transportation and are willing to pay more to fund better transit.

Texas metro regions have 1/3 the transit funding our competitors have

  • Average local + state spending on public transportation across all states was $114 per capita in 2016, but only $64 per Texan.
  • Compared to the 8 other states with one or more of the 10 largest metro regions in the nation, Texans experience only 1/3 as much local + state transit funding per capita.
  • Average state funding of public transportation in America is $44 per capita – in Texas: $1.08
  • Only 17% of Americans live in the 15 states that fund public transit less than Texas.

Innovations in Texas transit is being watched, copied across the nation

  • Houston METRO’s bus system reimagining overhaul has been copied across the nation, including last year in Austin, with ridership up in Austin and other metros following Houston’s lead on efficient, frequent service.

We massively subsidize driving even though we’ve reached a point of little marginal benefit, with transit ready to help

  • TXDOT has asked for $41 million a year in funding for transit for rural areas, home to 6 million Texans – to meet basic needs.
  • Equal transit funding per capita for the 22 million other Texans: $160 million a year.
  • $330 million a year would raise us to Indiana standards for state transit funding per capita.

Texans want more transit funding

  • According to the 2016 TTI survey, “the most frequently cited change that Texans would like to see in order to improve the transportation system for them was to improve public transportation.”
  • Kinder Houston Area Survey: 92% of the 7.5 million Texans living in Houston region think “much-improved mass transit” is important.

We need to fix our transit funding problem

  • $201 million a year dedicated to public transit for rural and metropolitan areas, with $41 million for rural and small metros.
  • Let Texans vote on local options funding

10 Best 2018 Buried Stories in Texas Public Policy – 2/2


Texas is a big state with big issues happening across the state. Here is our list of significant public policy stories that happened across the state that might not have received as much attention as they may have deserved.

This post contains explanations of six through ten, and a first post includes one through five, in this list.

6. The Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization Has Begun One of the Nation’s First Regional Vision Zero Action Plans

The Vision Zero movement has been dominated by two separate efforts: local activists working with local elected officials to adopt Vision Zero Action Plans for American cities, and statewide public servants and leaders developing zero death plans for State DOTs. Both are happening in Texas, and we are spending a lot of Vision Zero Texas energy at both levels.

However, the American transportation policy is dominated by regional level planning at the Metropolitan Planning Organizations. Serious efforts to end traffic deaths require regional coordination and integration of Vision Zero goals and strategies into regional transportation planning.

As the focal point of the 2017 World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, we worked with Vision Zero ATX, BikeAustin, WalkAustin, and Reconnect Austin to lead a campaign asking Austin’s MPO, Capital Area MPO (CAMPO), to adopt a regional Vision Zero Action Plan. Members of our team met with a majority of the elected officials on the region’s Transportation Policy Board (TPB).

In February 2018, the CAMPO TPB voted to approve a contract with the Texas A&M Transportation Institute to begin a regional safety study, achieving much of what we were asking for. A stakeholder committee has been formed and extensive background research has been conducted, but the public process to develop a regional Vision Zero Action Plan will be coming in the next year. Farm&City will be serving on the stakeholder committee and will work to ensure meaningful public involvement.

7. The City of San Antonio Adds a Full Time Sidewalks Staff Person

In general, Texas has a huge sidewalk problem – missing and broken sidewalks are the norm, meaning children and people of all abilities lack the freedom that residents of accessible cities enjoy. Most large Texas cities are likely vulnerable for ADA lawsuits. Houston is just at the beginning of a meaningful citywide conversation to start addressing this problem.

Austin is a little bit ahead of the rest of Texas cities, a couple years into its updated, data-based Sidewalk Master Plan / ADA Transition Plan, with meaningful amounts of funding included for sidewalks in the last couple of bonds. However, a crucial element of Austin’s success is finding funding in the regular operating budget for City staff dedicated to the issue.

San Antonio joined Austin this year in taking the sidewalk problem seriously, by creating a full time position in the 2018 budget process. We were very excited to provide this letter of support.

8. Kris Banks moves from Sylvester Turner’s Houston City Hall to Adrian Garcia’s Harris County Precinct as Policy Director, following Amar Mohite on the city to county move.

The Houston region is heading for remarkable changes, with a Democratic majority at Harris County Commissioners Court for the first time in at least forty years. The City of Houston has long been one of the most progressive entities in Texas, a beacon of tolerance for people of all races, genders, and sexual orientations and a nationwide leader in better transit planning.

Following the move of Amar Mohite from the City of Houston Planning Department to Commissioner Rodney Ellis’ Precinct office, Kris Banks is moving from the City of Houston Mayor’s office to become Director of Policy for newly elected Commissioner Adrian Garcia.

“The truth is, Harris County can do much more. Former sheriff and city council member Adrian Garcia ran for County Commissioner for Precinct 2 with the promise that Harris County will. Now elected and part of the new Democratic majority on Commissioners Court, Commissioner-elect Garcia will be taking the County’s role further than building roads and parks: Tackling environmental justice, improving housing stability and home ownership, approaching criminal justice in a brand new way.”

Kris Banks, Harris County Precinct Two Director of Policy

The third largest county in the nation also just elected a 27-year-old Hispanic woman as its County Judge. Lina Hidalgo is currently building her team, including hiring a Policy Director who will “oversee a team of 3-5 policy advisors who will focus on various issue-specific topics, such as Harvey recovery, climate resilience, criminal justice reform, affordable housing, gun safety, and early childhood education.”

Generation X, Generation Y, and the Millenials are taking their seats at the public policy arena at Texas’ largest county, changing the way we think about county and city lines, urban development, transportation, and justice.

9. Austin Voters Imposed a $160 Million Property Tax Bond for Transportation with Zero Promised to Car Capacity Expansion

In perhaps a first for a large Texas city, the voters of Austin passed a transportation bond package with elected officials and staff having given no promises to use any of the funds to expand roadway capacity. The future of Texas is going to be built around a safe, multimodal transportation system built around upgrading and improving the existing human habitat that we have already built. The sooner elected officials can have the moral fortitude to stop promising to “combat congestion” which is never achieved, the sooner we can get our fiscal house in order and build the Texas we deserve.

10. Texas State Representative Gene Wu Wants Smart Growth.

Back in 2009, then-Senator Rodney Ellis and now-Senator Carol Alvardo passed a bill through the House and unanimously through the Senate to create a statewide Smart Growth Task Force, to collaborate with TXDOT and other entities to develop a fiscally responsible growth strategy for Texas metropolitan regions. Then-Governor Rick Perry vetoed it.

We are paying the high costs of dumb growth policies, including traffic crashes, congestion, lack of affordability, and social and environmental costs. So it is a refreshing thing for State Representative Gene Wu to propose a need to rethink how our metropolitan region’s grow:

It’s time to seriously talk about how Texas cities develop and spread.

In the long run, this is not just bad for our economy and environment, but it’s bad for our quality of life.

Just building further and further out is no longer a responsible option.

– Texas State Rep. Gene Wu, 12/8/18

The Vision Zero Texas 2019 Legislative Agenda


We can end traffic deaths in Texas.

…but we need leadership from the Texas Legislature and Governor.

Vision Zero Texas is collaborating with communities and organizations from across the state to support this legislative agenda for #txlege 2019.


􏰀The Safe Neighborhood Streets bill would lower the prima facie speed limit — the speed limit on all little residential streets that don’t have a speed limit sign — from 30 to 25 mph, and it will give cities the power that counties already have to use 20 mph speed limits to design streets where kids are free to be kids.


While the official estimates from TXDoT are that about 500 people die from distracted driving across Texas every year, we know that we are under-reporting the extent of distracted driving crashes by almost half. Police are reporting that the current statewide texting ban is generally unenforceable, while cities with hands free laws have seen greater clarity in enforcement and lower rates of distracted driving.


Texas is currently a Yield to Pedestrians state — and also one of the most dangerous states in the nation for pedestrians. Several states have recently found that a small change to traffic laws from being a “yield to” to a “stop for” state can help save lives and provide much greater clarity while you are driving, walking, or using a wheelchair.


A clear statewide goal to end the epidemic of traffic deaths by 2040 will increase the rate at which our state agencies and local governments can reduce the danger on our streets. 􏰀The state’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan assumes that traffic deaths will continue to rise, because of a lack of prioritizing safety from our leadership. A multi-agency task force would bring recommendations back to the 2021 legislative session to rapidly increase safety on Texas roads.

Help us make 2019 the year that the leadership of Texas successfully changed our trajectory and began reducing traffic deaths in every community across the state. Donate to Farm&City today on PayPal or Facebook to support the Vision Zero Texas legislative agenda.