See below for common questions and answers about the May 2 vote to create an Urban Transportation District in the Gallatin Valley.
Voting YES for Streamline in the May 2 special election will help HRDC’s Streamline and Galavan maintain their current levels of service to Gallatin Valley residents and help these programs prepare for our future transit needs.
You don’t need to ride the bus to benefit from public transportation.
Streamline and Galavan:
Due to its rapid population growth, the Gallatin Valley is now categorized as a “small urbanized area” by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).
This new designation means a change in how federal transportation funds are received from the FTA. Instead of funds going to the state and then being passed to HRDC Streamline, the funds will go directly from the FTA to an operating entity, which needs to be a unit of local government, meaning a City, County or Urban Transportation District.
Creating the UTD will allow HRDC’s Streamline to continue receiving the federal funding that makes up a large part of its overall budget.
A 2021 community report, a subsequent community survey, and stakeholder interviews all showed that community members support the creation of an Urban Transportation District to manage and fund Streamline.
A UTD would allow for a mission-specific entity to oversee and manage the system for maximum efficiency. It also wouldn’t limit oversight of Streamline to one government entity, but allow collaboration between Bozeman, Belgrade and Gallatin County.
A UTD board including appointed representatives from Gallatin County, City of Bozeman, City of Belgrade and other key stakeholders, would offer the greatest potential for community collaboration.
A UTD also is the recommended organizational structure from all of Streamline’s peer transit organizations from across Montana. Many other transit systems in the state that are city or county run are exploring the possibility of creating UTDs in their areas.
The Steering Committee of Transit Advocates submitted petitions to the Gallatin County Elections Office in early December 2022.
Organizers submitted over 16,166 valid signatures to surpass the required goal of 12,935 by 3,231 or 25% more than needed to help place the UTD question on the May 2 special election ballot.
All of these signers live within the proposed district. This is a tremendous show of community support for a measure that provides a critical service to many of our friends and neighbors, and which benefits us all.
The ballot question for creating the Proposed District shall include the language required by § 7-14-211, MCA, and shall appear in substantially the following form:
Shall the Gallatin Valley Urban Transportation District be created?
☐ Transportation district — YES
☐ Transportation district — NO
(By voting yes, you support creation of the Gallatin Valley Urban Transportation District to supply public transportation services and facilities to district residents and other persons. The District will be governed and managed by a transportation board. The board shall have all powers necessary and proper to the establishment, operation, improvement, maintenance, and administration of the transportation district. There is no cost to form the district.)
WATCH FOR YOUR BALLOT IN THE MAIL
You have to be registered to vote in Gallatin County before April 14, 2023. All ballots will be mailed out on Friday, April 14. Only people who live within the proposed district boundaries will be able to vote on the UTD. You can view the District Boundaries on the Streamline website.
FILL OUT YOUR BALLOT
You can fill out and send your ballot back as soon you receive it in the mail! Ballots should be in people’s mailboxes starting the week of April 17 and you have until 8 p.m. on May 2 to return your ballot to the Gallatin County Courthouse.
MAIL BACK YOUR BALLOT BEFORE APRIL 27
The last day to put your ballot in the mail to ensure it arrives on time to the Gallatin County Courthouse is April 27. After that date, we ask that you drop off your ballot at the Courthouse or ballot drop-off location. We will update our list of ballot drop-off locations as Election Day gets closer.
No, creation of the UTD will not increase property taxes for local residents. If there is a need to improve or expand transit services in the future, the UTD would have the ability to ask voters to approve or deny increased transit funds.
Creating a UTD would allow Streamline to continue to receive the federal funding that enables it to operate bus routes, bus stops and provide the transit services that benefit us all.
The UTD structure creates the opportunity for Streamline to pursue new funding sources, including asking voters for additional funding, in order to expand its services as needed. However, additional funding to expand services is not the focus of the UTD measure on the May 2 ballot.
Streamline and Galavan maintain a zero-fare policy because national models show that this helps bolster ridership and efficiency. Additionally, research shows that the expense of collecting the fare almost entirely outweighs the revenue generated from the fare.
In addition to providing access to everyone, zero-fare service also offers other community benefits including reducing traffic congestion, improving air quality, and freeing up parking for others.
MSU students also make up a significant portion of Streamline’s overall ridership, and students pay for the service through their tuition and fees, which is the most economical way for us to collect this revenue.
Public transit is a public service similar to public libraries, public parks, public roads, and free public parking. It brings wide-spread community benefits that improve the quality of life for everyone.
The United States has dozens of zero-fare transit systems — mostly in small, college towns, such as Bozeman and Missoula. However, many large cities are experimenting with zero-fare; Kansas City, Missouri was the first major city to approve a zero-fare public transit system in 2019.
Failure of the UTD measure would jeopardize current and future public transportation services in the Gallatin Valley. The potential loss of federal transit dollars to our community would have a significant impact.
It’s possible that the City of Bozeman or Gallatin County could temporarily take on fiscal responsibility for the Streamline service. Either of these backup plans come with limitations that a UTD does not face.
Since the UTD is considered best practice for managing public transportation systems in Montana, stakeholders in our community would continue to make efforts to form the district in our community by re-launching new signature drives in the future