By David Pendered
The Atlanta Regional Commission on Wednesday took a formal step toward determining if it can create a transit governance system to serve the region until the Legislature creates one of its liking.
The ARC board voted unanimously Wednesday to seek proposals from law firms to determine the boundaries of the ARC’s authority to oversee regional transit. Legislation on the issue that was proposed by Gov. Nathan Deal’s Transit Governance Task Force failed in the 2012 session.
The ARC’s vote affirms a request for action from its Regional Transit Committee, which the ARC describes as a policy committee focused on transit planning, funding and governance.
Specifically, the RTC sought a “request for proposal regarding legal review of regional transit collaboration options.”
RTC members have been working since 2010 to craft a workable structure that would knit together the region’s transit systems. They have issued a raft of recommendations, but only some of them were included in legislation submitted in February by the governor’s transit task force.
The transit committee subsequently voted to affirm its recommendations. The legislation has fallen by the wayside, failing to win a level of support its backers said was necessary for them to try to push it forward.
The Legislature’s failure to act on transit governance has a direct impact on the July 31 vote on the proposed 1 percent sales tax for transportation.
During the debate last summer over the $6.14 billion project list, several members of the Atlanta Region Transportation Roundtable said voter support for the tax could hinge on a clear understanding of who will oversee the spending of the tax revenues.
Here’s how Cobb Commission Chairman Tim Lee framed the issue in October:
“It’s imperative that the governance model be brought together as soon as possible so citizens can understand how we’re going to implement this.”
The scope of work for the lawyers still has to be determined.
But initial thoughts of the RTC include the following questions. These items were taken from a recent presentation to the committee:
- How much transit planning, coordination, and implementation do you want centralized with Regional Transit Committee?
- Do we need a full legal review of ARC’s abilities vis-à-vis the RTC concept legislation?
- Are (local governments) willing to contribute more funding to RTC for the purpose of greater coordination?
- Are (local governments) willing to contribute more of your staff’s time for regional coordination purposes?