ARC moves ahead with effort to create regional transit governance system

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?

About David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with nearly 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.
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15 comments
BillSimon
BillSimon

 @Burroughston Broch    I appreciate the education very much.

Burroughston Broch
Burroughston Broch

@ Bill Simon

I looked at the ARC's website, particularly its history and bylaws, and suggest that you do the same because your understanding is incorrect.

The Atlanta Regional Commission was created in 1971 by Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry, and Rockdale counties and 68 municipalities within them, including the City of Atlanta. It receives some Federal funding.

It is not a State-created animal and there's the rub.

Burroughston Broch
Burroughston Broch

@ Bill Simon I looked at the ARC's website, particularly its history and bylaws, and suggest that you do the same because your understanding is incorrect. The Atlanta Regional Commission was created in 1971 by Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry, and Rockdale counties and 68 municipalities within them, including the City of Atlanta. It receives some Federal funding. It is not a State-created animal and there's the rub.

BillSimon
BillSimon

While I appreciate the opinions, from my understanding of things in this state:

 

1) The ARC is a federally-created/authorized organization

2) GRTA is a strictly Georgia-created animal

 

So, back to my original statement: Under what authority can the "ARC" create anything without being expressly-authorized to do so by its original charter?

 

And, please, I no longer assume anything is "okay" to be done by my federal or state government. I believe they need specific legal authorization to create any kind of "oversight" committee on anything.

BillSimon
BillSimon

While I appreciate the opinions, from my understanding of things in this state:   1) The ARC is a federally-created/authorized organization 2) GRTA is a strictly Georgia-created animal   So, back to my original statement: Under what authority can the "ARC" create anything without being expressly-authorized to do so by its original charter?   And, please, I no longer assume anything is "okay" to be done by my federal or state government. I believe they need specific legal authorization to create any kind of "oversight" committee on anything.

Rock Gaines
Rock Gaines

All GRTA has to do is form a mass transit division. There's no need to overthink this.

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

I could very likely be wrong, but I swear that those powers of regional transit governance are already in existence under the legislation that created GRTA (Georgia REGIONAL Transit Authority) back in the late 1990's.

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

I could very likely be wrong, but I swear that those powers of regional transit governance are already in existence under the legislation that created GRTA (Georgia REGIONAL Transit Authority) back in the late 1990's.

BillSimon
BillSimon

Under what part of the Georgia Constitution will this "regional governance board" find authorization for its existence?

BillSimon
BillSimon

Under what part of the Georgia Constitution will this "regional governance board" find authorization for its existence?

Burroughston Broch
Burroughston Broch

 @BillSimon Perhaps under the Nathan Bedford Forrest clause - "Get there firstest with the mostest."