It’s time for Atlanta, Fulton and DeKalb to retake control of their own destinies

By Maria Saporta

During the transportation sales tax campaign, Mayor Kasim Reed was fond of saying that Atlanta has always been on the right side of history.

And then he would list any number of milestones in Atlanta’s history that catapulted the whole region into a global sphere — a major airport, a stadium that attracted the Atlanta Braves and the Atlanta Falcons to town; a rail transit system and the Olympic Games to name a few.

And all those investments fed off each other. Atlanta never would have gotten the Olympic Games had it not been for Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport or the MARTA rail and bus system.

What Reed did not say is that just about every major initiative in metro Atlanta originated from the region’s core. It was the City of Atlanta — often joined by Fulton and DeKalb counties that lifted the region to a higher plateau.

The regional transportation sales tax was a rare opportunity for the 10-county region to invest in metro Atlanta’s future. And the tax went down in flames — 62 percent to 38 percent in the 10-county area — failing in all 10 counties.

But a preliminary precinct-by-precinct analysis of the vote by the Atlanta Regional Commission shows a slightly different story. (See map on the right, and click on it to make it larger).

Areas in dark blue passed the regional sales tax by at least 67 percent; and areas in lighter blue supported tax by between 51 to 66 percent. The breakout box shows how people voted inside the perimeter. (Draft precinct results compiled by the Atlanta Regional Commission).

In the City of Atlanta, the tax passed by 60 percent to 40 percent. Not only that, the map shows that the area inside I-285 generally favored the tax while support declined in concentric circles surrounding the core.

There’s a lesson in these results. The core of the region continues to be willing to invest in its transit and transportation infrastructure.

That is over and above the penny sales tax that the City of Atlanta, Fulton and DeKalb counties have been investing in MARTA for more than 40 years.

The relationship between the City of Atlanta and the rest of region has had its ups and downs over the years. Over the past 15 years, leaders in the Atlanta region have worked tirelessly for the good of all.

Two stellar examples come to mind — the unanimous agreement for a regional transit plan known as “Concept 3,” and the ability of the 21 members of the Regional Atlanta Transportation Roundtable to agree on a list of 157 projects with about half being invested in transit and half in roads.

But the referendum was a rude awakening that people voting in the July 31 primary did not have a similar regional view.

For the City of Atlanta, it might be time to take a page out of former Mayor Shirley Franklin’s playbook.

When she was elected mayor, Franklin pledged to be a regional player — spending a great deal of time in her first two years in office building relationships with colleagues throughout the 10-county metro area.

Then in August of 2004, Franklin shifted her focus from the region to the city.

“I’ve spent a lot of time working on the region,” Franklin said at the time. “It’s time I could spend building Atlanta.”

She expressed her frustration by questioning whether the region was going to “just muddle around on this transportation plan.”

Franklin even acknowledged her shift in a 2004 talk to the Atlanta Rotary Club.

“Atlanta is going to be so clean, so safe and so wonderful that people are going to want to live here,” Franklin said. “I’ve shifted in the last six months. I’m planning to make Atlanta so great that the people who have a choice are going to live in the city.”

It’s eerie to revisit Franklin’s ruminations while we’re in this post-mortem of the transportation tax.

Eight years ago, her “to do list” is virtually identical to our current “to do list” — the multimodal station, the BeltLine, the Peachtree Streetcar, a civil rights museum, affordable housing, parks, the homeless, jobs, MARTA, schools, air quality, the arts and the hospitality industry.

Unlike many other parts of the region, the city has welcomed greater density with affordable housing built along public transit lines creating healthy walkable communities.

As Mayor Reed decides how to proceed after Tuesday’s election, he could find himself at the same place where Franklin was in 2004 — looking for ways to control the city’s destiny — with or without the rest of the region.

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104 comments
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AtlantaOwner
AtlantaOwner

Considering the controversy over how airport concessions were awarded, I would assume Reed is avoiding doing an "Atlanta-only" type of tax for transit construction.  Reed is alleged to have a lot of friends in the construction business, and he has already made a comment to reporters about awarding contracts to minority businesses - instead of simply implying that the best company at the best price quoted would get these jobs, as it should be.  Some folks are having a deja vu where the name "Bill Campbell" pops into their head - they do not want a repeat of that.  There is simply A LOT of mistrust in both regional, State, and local government today as was reflected in the recent vote.  I think a lot of good behavior is needed first before even intown residents are willing to fork over more to transit construction.

AtlantaOwner
AtlantaOwner

Considering the controversy over how airport concessions were awarded, I would assume Reed is avoiding doing an "Atlanta-only" type of tax for transit construction.  Reed is alleged to have a lot of friends in the construction business, and he has already made a comment to reporters about awarding contracts to minority businesses - instead of simply implying that the best company at the best price quoted would get these jobs, as it should be.  Some folks are having a deja vu where the name "Bill Campbell" pops into their head - they do not want a repeat of that.  There is simply A LOT of mistrust in both regional, State, and local government today as was reflected in the recent vote.  I think a lot of good behavior is needed first before even intown residents are willing to fork over more to transit construction.

DH-ATL
DH-ATL

YES-- I couldn't agree with this more-- and this time its 75% transit--

DH-ATL
DH-ATL

YES-- I couldn't agree with this more-- and this time its 75% transit--

Rick Z
Rick Z

Thanks for that map, which makes it clear that T-SPLOST failed for one of two reasons (really the same reason, depending on which end you view it from):

1) The 10-county region that voted was too broad an electorate to support the list of projects that was offered, or

2) The list of projects offered was perceived as too heavily geared to Atlanta's interests to attract enough support in the 10-county region.

I understand the city's unique importance as the hub of the region, but the political realities must be faced. Views on what kind of transportation projects are needed are sharply divided in this region, much more than in others in the state. Now that Atlanta voters have shown their willingness to do so, they should be given an opportunity to vote to fund the ones that pertain directly to them without having to rely on support from outside the Perimeter..

Rick Z
Rick Z

Thanks for that map, which makes it clear that T-SPLOST failed for one of two reasons (really the same reason, depending on which end you view it from): 1) The 10-county region that voted was too broad an electorate to support the list of projects that was offered, or 2) The list of projects offered was perceived as too heavily geared to Atlanta's interests to attract enough support in the 10-county region. I understand the city's unique importance as the hub of the region, but the political realities must be faced. Views on what kind of transportation projects are needed are sharply divided in this region, much more than in others in the state. Now that Atlanta voters have shown their willingness to do so, they should be given an opportunity to vote to fund the ones that pertain directly to them without having to rely on support from outside the Perimeter..

Rob Augustine
Rob Augustine

Pretty obvious that in order to perhaps achieve for the first time a fully defined Metro Region working together on transit, roads, and infrastructure that the politicians went a bridge too far. The outlying areas should have been excluded based on the chart in this article. That leaves Fulton, DeKalb, and Clayton along with their municipalities and the City of Atlanta as the advancing core of the new Atlanta Region. A core where the densities may exist for a more focused investment in transit. It is worrisome, however, that the south DeKalb residents voted against the penny tax. Clearly, they want and deserve rail out to Stonecrest, so maybe there's still hope for this area. So the big question raised here is will these interior counties, or perhaps just the City of Atlanta, go for some plan that improves the core and costs them more money? Well, for 40 years we've been paying that extra cent for MARTA. It would seem worthwhile to add to the rail system with a light rail line to Emory and the Clifton corridor; a line east to Stonecrest; and an inner connecting system for the central downtown area. Why not add some type of shuttle service at the CID's in Midtown, Perimeter, and elsewhere to help this picture. Something that would pull in more destinations and make riding MARTA rail more available across the city, allowing you to get where you want to go primarily on a train and by walking. I'm not sure the existing, all too convenient, and tempting belt line route is really the complete answer to that part of the puzzle. What about providing light rail in major corridors like Northside Drive, across the connector to Turner Field, and then out East to the zoo, and Southeast DeKalb. It seems to me that connecting what already exists should be the paramount objective. Not building rail in the beltway and then waiting for development to occur there. If you look at other cities they've got light rail in their high density areas -- in the core and in the center of the streets. If we don't get Emory-Clifton Corridor on transit, we suffer further demise there and lose a great deal of potential. And someone, I think it was Last Demo, mentioned this routing could be a conflict with the Brain Train. All I can say is, if we cannot build lines that serve both the Brain Train and a light rail to Clifton Corridor, then we are complete idiots. In fact, an intermodal transfer station there between the Brain Train and the light rail to Clfton Corridor would be the perfect solution. I think a lot of this will happen some day. Mainly because it has to. If it doesn't happen, we Atlantans will be the big losers. And as far as funding, who knows. A penny tax or some type of transportation Community Improvement District, or some combination of mechanisms to provide base funding. Certainly sources of state funding are important as well. Perhaps with the new interest in an intermodal facility downtown, you know where we used to have a couple real train stations, and with federal funding some of this may happen. But if you have a central intermodal connecting to MARTA, it would be even better to add the Brain Train and the Griffin Macon and points south commuter rail as well. Unless we are going to end up somehow totally different than other American cities, this is how things will wind up being done. And, hey, tell the Sierra Club to get with the program too! Assuming they and ATL has another chance.

Rob Augustine
Rob Augustine

Pretty obvious that in order to perhaps achieve for the first time a fully defined Metro Region working together on transit, roads, and infrastructure that the politicians went a bridge too far. The outlying areas should have been excluded based on the chart in this article. That leaves Fulton, DeKalb, and Clayton along with their municipalities and the City of Atlanta as the advancing core of the new Atlanta Region. A core where the densities may exist for a more focused investment in transit. It is worrisome, however, that the south DeKalb residents voted against the penny tax. Clearly, they want and deserve rail out to Stonecrest, so maybe there's still hope for this area. So the big question raised here is will these interior counties, or perhaps just the City of Atlanta, go for some plan that improves the core and costs them more money? Well, for 40 years we've been paying that extra cent for MARTA. It would seem worthwhile to add to the rail system with a light rail line to Emory and the Clifton corridor; a line east to Stonecrest; and an inner connecting system for the central downtown area. Why not add some type of shuttle service at the CID's in Midtown, Perimeter, and elsewhere to help this picture. Something that would pull in more destinations and make riding MARTA rail more available across the city, allowing you to get where you want to go primarily on a train and by walking. I'm not sure the existing, all too convenient, and tempting belt line route is really the complete answer to that part of the puzzle. What about providing light rail in major corridors like Northside Drive, across the connector to Turner Field, and then out East to the zoo, and Southeast DeKalb. It seems to me that connecting what already exists should be the paramount objective. Not building rail in the beltway and then waiting for development to occur there. If you look at other cities they've got light rail in their high density areas -- in the core and in the center of the streets. If we don't get Emory-Clifton Corridor on transit, we suffer further demise there and lose a great deal of potential. And someone, I think it was Last Demo, mentioned this routing could be a conflict with the Brain Train. All I can say is, if we cannot build lines that serve both the Brain Train and a light rail to Clifton Corridor, then we are complete idiots. In fact, an intermodal transfer station there between the Brain Train and the light rail to Clfton Corridor would be the perfect solution. I think a lot of this will happen some day. Mainly because it has to. If it doesn't happen, we Atlantans will be the big losers. And as far as funding, who knows. A penny tax or some type of transportation Community Improvement District, or some combination of mechanisms to provide base funding. Certainly sources of state funding are important as well. Perhaps with the new interest in an intermodal facility downtown, you know where we used to have a couple real train stations, and with federal funding some of this may happen. But if you have a central intermodal connecting to MARTA, it would be even better to add the Brain Train and the Griffin Macon and points south commuter rail as well. Unless we are going to end up somehow totally different than other American cities, this is how things will wind up being done. And, hey, tell the Sierra Club to get with the program too! Assuming they and ATL has another chance.

Frustrated Voter
Frustrated Voter

Vincent Fort and Derrick Boazman promised us increased Marta service in Atlanta, Marta to Clayton, light rail to Dekalb , increased minority contract participation at the DOT and jobs for all.   I promise we will be watching

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @AtlantaOwner

 There effectively already is an "Atlanta-only" type of tax for transit construction...The 1% sales tax that residents of Fulton and DeKalb counties pay to fund MARTA.

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @AtlantaOwner  There effectively already is an "Atlanta-only" type of tax for transit construction...The 1% sales tax that residents of Fulton and DeKalb counties pay to fund MARTA.

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @Rob Augustine

 It is also highly-probable that most transit upgrades will not be funded through highly politically-contentious tax increases and dwindling federal funds, but through new funding sources like distance-based user fees, zone-pricing, public-private partnerships and Tax Incremental Financing (property tax revenues from new development that pops up along transit lines). 

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @Rob Augustine

 The problems with the Lindbergh-Emory Clifton Corridor as it was proposed to be funded in the T-SPLOST were that it was only partially-funded at best and that it did not necessarily fit into a larger clearly-defined vision that provided transit connectivity not only to Emory from the City of Atlanta and the current MARTA system mainly to the west and partially to the southeast, but also to the heavily-populated suburbs and exurbs and points east out through the US Hwy 29/GA 316 Corridor through DeKalb, Gwinnett and out to Athens by way of the long-awaited CSX/Brain Train rail right-of-way.

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @Rob Augustine

 I also suspect that many of the light rail extensions that were proposed for the existing MARTA system in the T-SPLOST (like the aforementioned proposed Lindbergh-to-Emory light rail line) as well as the regional commuter rail lines proposed to be operated in state-owned freight rail right-of-ways (like the aforementioned proposed ATL Airport-Athens "Brain Train" commuter rail line) may very well likely end up being heavy rail-type lines (NOT Marta heavy rail service as we currently know it) with their own set of tracks with grades separate from intersecting roads to accommodate a much higher frequency of train service (headways of between 2-7 minutes) and higher train speeds over longer distances in the long run.

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @Rob Augustine

 The reason why the Sierra Club opposed the T-SPLOST is because they thought that the project list contained too much funding for road construction, an opinion that ironically was supported by a great deal of very conservative suburbanites and exurbanites Outside-the-Perimeter who think that the T-SPLOST was a publicly-funded bailout for roadbuilders and land developers who are politically well-connected with the state government powers-that-be at the Gold Dome and that the construction of more roads will only create more automobile-overdependent sprawl which will only create more traffic and make traffic worse.

 

It was the opinion of the Sierra Club and many on both sides of the political spectrum (even opposite sides of the political, cultural and social spectrum) that the T-SPLOST may have well been a last gasp for what many regard to be excessive roadbuilding for the purpose furthering real estate development.

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @Rob Augustine  It is also highly-probable that most transit upgrades will not be funded through highly politically-contentious tax increases and dwindling federal funds, but through new funding sources like distance-based user fees, zone-pricing, public-private partnerships and Tax Incremental Financing (property tax revenues from new development that pops up along transit lines). 

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @Rob Augustine  The problems with the Lindbergh-Emory Clifton Corridor as it was proposed to be funded in the T-SPLOST were that it was only partially-funded at best and that it did not necessarily fit into a larger clearly-defined vision that provided transit connectivity not only to Emory from the City of Atlanta and the current MARTA system mainly to the west and partially to the southeast, but also to the heavily-populated suburbs and exurbs and points east out through the US Hwy 29/GA 316 Corridor through DeKalb, Gwinnett and out to Athens by way of the long-awaited CSX/Brain Train rail right-of-way.

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @Rob Augustine  I also suspect that many of the light rail extensions that were proposed for the existing MARTA system in the T-SPLOST (like the aforementioned proposed Lindbergh-to-Emory light rail line) as well as the regional commuter rail lines proposed to be operated in state-owned freight rail right-of-ways (like the aforementioned proposed ATL Airport-Athens "Brain Train" commuter rail line) may very well likely end up being heavy rail-type lines (NOT Marta heavy rail service as we currently know it) with their own set of tracks with grades separate from intersecting roads to accommodate a much higher frequency of train service (headways of between 2-7 minutes) and higher train speeds over longer distances in the long run.

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @Rob Augustine  The reason why the Sierra Club opposed the T-SPLOST is because they thought that the project list contained too much funding for road construction, an opinion that ironically was supported by a great deal of very conservative suburbanites and exurbanites Outside-the-Perimeter who think that the T-SPLOST was a publicly-funded bailout for roadbuilders and land developers who are politically well-connected with the state government powers-that-be at the Gold Dome and that the construction of more roads will only create more automobile-overdependent sprawl which will only create more traffic and make traffic worse.   It was the opinion of the Sierra Club and many on both sides of the political spectrum (even opposite sides of the political, cultural and social spectrum) that the T-SPLOST may have well been a last gasp for what many regard to be excessive roadbuilding for the purpose furthering real estate development.

Burroughston Broch
Burroughston Broch

How do you justify this statement? The City of Atlanta was only 26% of the combined population of DeKalb and Fulton, and that perecentage drops every day.

Burroughston Broch
Burroughston Broch

How do you justify this statement? The City of Atlanta was only 26% of the combined population of DeKalb and Fulton, and that perecentage drops every day.

Rob Augustine
Rob Augustine

@The Last Democrat in Georgia Great details Last Demo. I knew you would have some good plans Last Democrat. Thanks, and just like the Sierra Club, this is may be the last chance, assuming we have one, to get something done in the core area sans Tea Party, et al. I think the dueling editorials in today's paper set up and summarily dismissed the enhancement of arterials with over/under intersections as a partial solution. That would do a lot to rent the urban fabric, for sure, as the Sierrans pointed out. And wasn't there a spur at one point going to the NE off the east MARTA line to serve the corridor you speak of? But clearly, given the vote, Gwinnett, Cobb, and the other outliers can't be in on this next vote. Although perhaps Gwinnett would want the MARTA rail extensions and Cobb as well from Arts Center to Kennesaw. I wonder if that's doable, along with Emory Clifton corridor and east into South DeKalb. Yes, I could see some big long TIF's sprouting up along these routes. It's not the Union and Southern Pacific type deal, but it would be a start.

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @Rob Augustine

 The separate tracks for regional train service will also help to separate high-frequency regional passenger rail service from already-existing very high-frequency freight rail service that operates on existing tracks within existing state-owned right-of-ways in a metro region in Atlanta that has some of the busiest stretches of freight rail tracks on the entire planet.

Rob Augustine
Rob Augustine

@The Last Democrat in Georgia Great details Last Demo. I knew you would have some good plans Last Democrat. Thanks, and just like the Sierra Club, this is may be the last chance, assuming we have one, to get something done in the core area sans Tea Party, et al. I think the dueling editorials in today's paper set up and summarily dismissed the enhancement of arterials with over/under intersections as a partial solution. That would do a lot to rent the urban fabric, for sure, as the Sierrans pointed out. And wasn't there a spur at one point going to the NE off the east MARTA line to serve the corridor you speak of? But clearly, given the vote, Gwinnett, Cobb, and the other outliers can't be in on this next vote. Although perhaps Gwinnett would want the MARTA rail extensions and Cobb as well from Arts Center to Kennesaw. I wonder if that's doable, along with Emory Clifton corridor and east into South DeKalb. Yes, I could see some big long TIF's sprouting up along these routes. It's not the Union and Southern Pacific type deal, but it would be a start.

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @Rob Augustine  The separate tracks for regional train service will also help to separate high-frequency regional passenger rail service from already-existing very high-frequency freight rail service that operates on existing tracks within existing state-owned right-of-ways in a metro region in Atlanta that has some of the busiest stretches of freight rail tracks on the entire planet.

Burroughston Broch
Burroughston Broch

 @ScottNAtlanta How do you know if I misrepresent them if you don't know where I got them? Which ones do you want?

 

While we're at it, how about your good ideas for MARTA? You challenged me for some,  I responded with 6 and asked for yours.

Burroughston Broch
Burroughston Broch

 @ScottNAtlanta One more thing, my "anti-Atlanta tone".

 

I lived in Atlanta in the late 60s and early 70s when Ivan Allen and Sam Massell were Mayors. City government was corrupt (it's always corrupt because it's spending other people's money) but it worked. Things started coming unglued when Sam Massell caved in to the sanitation worker's union and Jerry Wurf. Then came Maynard Jackson who promised that things would get better, and I took him at his word. Instead it has been all down hill, with Bill Campbell being a particularly low point. City government is now monumentally corrupt and nothing works. I feel betrayed and see no improvement on the horizon.

 

Add to it the snotty, snide, condescending remarks of City dwellers who look down their noses at anyone residing outside the City, and yet proclaim an attitude of entitlement that metro Atlanta must prop up the City. They think it's 50 years ago and  the City is the keystone of the metro area and the state. Times have changed. 93% of people in metro Atlanta who don't live in the City resent the tone and the attitude. This could be improved.

 

It hurts me and makes me angry to ride through Atlanta and see a great resemblance to Detroit and North Philadelphia. What has happened there will happen here unless City dwellers make some big changes.

 

Hence my "anti-Atlanta tone", as you call it.

Burroughston Broch
Burroughston Broch

 @ScottNAtlanta I pay City sales tax when I am in the City or at the airport (which is often) so, if the City were to add 1%, I would pay it. The difference is that it's my decision to pay it. I don't like government taking taxes from me in DeKalb to spend on the BeltLine that will never benefit me.

 

I am well aware that the Gulch was not included, but you and I both know that it's in the Mayor's plans since it's a developer-driven project.

 

Looking for good ideas for MARTA? Here are a few.

1. Institute a distance-based fare system. I would gladly pay $10 instead of $5 to get to the airport. It costs me $30 to drive round trip to the airport.

2. Get new, energetic management composed of skilled problem solvers.

3. Get rid of the ATU union.

4. Focus on building ridership on the existing lines.

5. Expand the East Line into South DeKalb and the South Line to the International Terminal at the airport.

6. Build the Clifton Corridor segment from the East Line to Emory first. It should cost much less and have more riders than the segment from Lindbergh.

 

And your ideas, sir?

 

ScottNAtlanta
ScottNAtlanta

 @Burroughston Broch The gulch was not included in the TIA...and your anti-Atlanta tone is getting old...how about contributing some good ideas...since we know you wont be contributing anything else (not any of my damn tax money)

ScottNAtlanta
ScottNAtlanta

 @Burroughston Broch Here's an idea...let MARTA use the money it has and remove this stupid 50/50 rule that makes no sense.  Also, extend the MARTA sales tax in the current area to at least 30 years so MARTA can issue long term bonds to finance construction of new routes...that would be a good start.  Also, the constant demonizing of MARTA for reasons that are far from accurate would also be a nice change

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @Burroughston Broch

 The State of Georgia is going to have to play a dominant role in most, if not all, of the prospects for a regional rail system as it is the state that owns the freight rail right-of-ways that a larger regional rail system will operate in.

http://www.dot.state.ga.us/travelingingeorgia/rail/Documents/CommuterRailMap.pdf

http://www.dot.state.ga.us/maps/Documents/railroad/nga_passenger.pdf

 

The state would also have to find a way to either coordinate activity between future high-frequency passenger rail service and the existing exceptionally-heavy freight rail service on existing tracks or expand the existing trackage within those rail right-of-ways to accommodate both high-frequency passenger rail service and fast-growing exceptionally-heavy freight rail service.

 

Contrary to popular belief, the state does not necessarily need to create a new regional transit authority to coordinate and manage regional transit service as most of the ability to do so already exists through the legislation that created GRTA and GRTA Xpress regional commuter bus service almost a decade-and-a-half ago.

Burroughston Broch
Burroughston Broch

So much for the pipe dream about Atlanta, Fulton, and DeKalb retaking control of their public transport destiny. Easy to say but difficult/impossible to accomplish.

 

This also doesn't bode well for the regional rail pipe dream, or the need for a multi-modal terminal in the Gulch downtown.

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @Burroughston Broch

 Well, ideally, in the absence of increased tax revenues which are not and never were coming from either the state or the locals, a transit service like MARTA would normally have a distance-based and/or zone-based fare-collection structure that is similar to that of their more successful peers in Northern California (BART) and Washington DC (DC Metrorail).

 

Otherwise, one of the very few options for MARTA to obtain additional funding at this point would be through partial or full privatization of their operations and even that option could only go so far at this point as MARTA seriously should have been collecting more farebox revenues and managing those increased farebox revenues and existing sales tax revenues much more wisely over the years in place of the additional tax funding from the state and locals that they were not going to get.

 

Unfortunately, we have likely reached a point where MARTA is such deep financial trouble that they likely will not be able to recover without a really big miracle of some kind.

 

Absent that really big miracle, right now it appears that MARTA is poised to go the way of the old Atlanta Transit Company that preceded it over four decades ago.

Burroughston Broch
Burroughston Broch

Where is additional funding for MARTA going to come from, assuming that MARTA focuses on DeKalb and Fulton only? No sales tax increase in Fulton and DeKalb. Not from the state. Not from the other metro counties. The Feds are a sporadic and unreliable source. Raising fares will reduce ridership.

Maybe the Tooth Fairy or Santa Claus?

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @Burroughston Broch

 I'm saying that the City of Atlanta doesn't need to pay an additional 1% transit tax because it, along with the rest of Fulton County and all of DeKalb County already pays for MARTA with the 1% sales tax.

 

And even if the City of Atlanta accounts for only 26% of the combined population of DeKalb and Fulton counties, at roughly 420,000 residents, the City of Atlanta is still the largest single incorporated municipality in those two combined counties and, for that matter, in the State of Georgia.

Burroughston Broch
Burroughston Broch

 @ScottNAtlanta How do you know if I misrepresent them if you don't know where I got them? Which ones do you want?   While we're at it, how about your good ideas for MARTA? You challenged me for some,  I responded with 6 and asked for yours.

ScottNAtlanta
ScottNAtlanta

 @Burroughston Broch  hows about some links to those numbers you consistently misrepresent

Burroughston Broch
Burroughston Broch

 @ScottNAtlanta One more thing, my "anti-Atlanta tone".   I lived in Atlanta in the late 60s and early 70s when Ivan Allen and Sam Massell were Mayors. City government was corrupt (it's always corrupt because it's spending other people's money) but it worked. Things started coming unglued when Sam Massell caved in to the sanitation worker's union and Jerry Wurf. Then came Maynard Jackson who promised that things would get better, and I took him at his word. Instead it has been all down hill, with Bill Campbell being a particularly low point. City government is now monumentally corrupt and nothing works. I feel betrayed and see no improvement on the horizon.   Add to it the snotty, snide, condescending remarks of City dwellers who look down their noses at anyone residing outside the City, and yet proclaim an attitude of entitlement that metro Atlanta must prop up the City. They think it's 50 years ago and  the City is the keystone of the metro area and the state. Times have changed. 93% of people in metro Atlanta who don't live in the City resent the tone and the attitude. This could be improved.   It hurts me and makes me angry to ride through Atlanta and see a great resemblance to Detroit and North Philadelphia. What has happened there will happen here unless City dwellers make some big changes.   Hence my "anti-Atlanta tone", as you call it.

Burroughston Broch
Burroughston Broch

 @ScottNAtlanta I pay City sales tax when I am in the City or at the airport (which is often) so, if the City were to add 1%, I would pay it. The difference is that it's my decision to pay it. I don't like government taking taxes from me in DeKalb to spend on the BeltLine that will never benefit me.   I am well aware that the Gulch was not included, but you and I both know that it's in the Mayor's plans since it's a developer-driven project.   Looking for good ideas for MARTA? Here are a few. 1. Institute a distance-based fare system. I would gladly pay $10 instead of $5 to get to the airport. It costs me $30 to drive round trip to the airport. 2. Get new, energetic management composed of skilled problem solvers. 3. Get rid of the ATU union. 4. Focus on building ridership on the existing lines. 5. Expand the East Line into South DeKalb and the South Line to the International Terminal at the airport. 6. Build the Clifton Corridor segment from the East Line to Emory first. It should cost much less and have more riders than the segment from Lindbergh.   And your ideas, sir?  

ScottNAtlanta
ScottNAtlanta

 @Burroughston Broch The gulch was not included in the TIA...and your anti-Atlanta tone is getting old...how about contributing some good ideas...since we know you wont be contributing anything else (not any of my damn tax money)

ScottNAtlanta
ScottNAtlanta

 @Burroughston Broch Here's an idea...let MARTA use the money it has and remove this stupid 50/50 rule that makes no sense.  Also, extend the MARTA sales tax in the current area to at least 30 years so MARTA can issue long term bonds to finance construction of new routes...that would be a good start.  Also, the constant demonizing of MARTA for reasons that are far from accurate would also be a nice change

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @Burroughston Broch  The State of Georgia is going to have to play a dominant role in most, if not all, of the prospects for a regional rail system as it is the state that owns the freight rail right-of-ways that a larger regional rail system will operate in. http://www.dot.state.ga.us/travelingingeorgia/rail/Documents/CommuterRailMap.pdf http://www.dot.state.ga.us/maps/Documents/railroad/nga_passenger.pdf   The state would also have to find a way to either coordinate activity between future high-frequency passenger rail service and the existing exceptionally-heavy freight rail service on existing tracks or expand the existing trackage within those rail right-of-ways to accommodate both high-frequency passenger rail service and fast-growing exceptionally-heavy freight rail service.   Contrary to popular belief, the state does not necessarily need to create a new regional transit authority to coordinate and manage regional transit service as most of the ability to do so already exists through the legislation that created GRTA and GRTA Xpress regional commuter bus service almost a decade-and-a-half ago.

Burroughston Broch
Burroughston Broch

So much for the pipe dream about Atlanta, Fulton, and DeKalb retaking control of their public transport destiny. Easy to say but difficult/impossible to accomplish.   This also doesn't bode well for the regional rail pipe dream, or the need for a multi-modal terminal in the Gulch downtown.

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @Burroughston Broch  Well, ideally, in the absence of increased tax revenues which are not and never were coming from either the state or the locals, a transit service like MARTA would normally have a distance-based and/or zone-based fare-collection structure that is similar to that of their more successful peers in Northern California (BART) and Washington DC (DC Metrorail).   Otherwise, one of the very few options for MARTA to obtain additional funding at this point would be through partial or full privatization of their operations and even that option could only go so far at this point as MARTA seriously should have been collecting more farebox revenues and managing those increased farebox revenues and existing sales tax revenues much more wisely over the years in place of the additional tax funding from the state and locals that they were not going to get.   Unfortunately, we have likely reached a point where MARTA is such deep financial trouble that they likely will not be able to recover without a really big miracle of some kind.   Absent that really big miracle, right now it appears that MARTA is poised to go the way of the old Atlanta Transit Company that preceded it over four decades ago.

Burroughston Broch
Burroughston Broch

Where is additional funding for MARTA going to come from, assuming that MARTA focuses on DeKalb and Fulton only? No sales tax increase in Fulton and DeKalb. Not from the state. Not from the other metro counties. The Feds are a sporadic and unreliable source. Raising fares will reduce ridership. Maybe the Tooth Fairy or Santa Claus?

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @Burroughston Broch  I'm saying that the City of Atlanta doesn't need to pay an additional 1% transit tax because it, along with the rest of Fulton County and all of DeKalb County already pays for MARTA with the 1% sales tax.   And even if the City of Atlanta accounts for only 26% of the combined population of DeKalb and Fulton counties, at roughly 420,000 residents, the City of Atlanta is still the largest single incorporated municipality in those two combined counties and, for that matter, in the State of Georgia.

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @Rob Augustine  @The

 Some of these seemingly dormant and unattainable transit plans may get a really big boost in the not-too-distant future if the Feds decide to impose congestion pricing on the Atlanta freeway system as a way to virtually clear the Interstates of excessive local traffic so that the out-of-state and longer-distance through traffic that the Interstates were primarily designed for can flow much better through the Atlanta metro area since the State of Georgia has pretty much outright refused to either expand the Interstate network to accommodate the increasingly extremely heavy volumes of through traffic (especially the very heavy freight truck traffic that is a constant feature of Metro Atlanta interstates) or its local and regional mass transit network.

 

Whomever thinks that the Feds are just going to sit around and let a critical part of the nation's transportation grid become virtually impassable because the State of Georgia refuses to do its constitutionally-mandated job in maintaining and tending to the transportation network that it is responsible for is likely very much mistaken.

 

If the State of Georgia continues to refuse to do its job in helping to maintain, upgrade and expand the state's overall transportation network as needed (a la, the Interstates and mass transit), then the Feds are going to force the issue and do it for them and they may not be very nice about it when they do it.

 

The freeway system in the Atlanta Region has not been meaningfully expanded in over two decades while the population of the Atlanta Region has more than doubled in that time.

 

At the same time, access to transit has either stagnated or declined in most cases while the Atlanta Region has grown to become the largest metro area in the country east of the Mississippi without regional commuter rail service.

 

If the Feds intervene and impose congestion pricing on the freeways, driving on those freeways is going to become a heckuva lot more expensive as Metro Atlantans and North Georgians can expect to pay rates of up to $40 daily to get to-and-from work  as the unpopular concept of the I-85 HOT Lanes is imposed on all lanes of all major Metro Atlanta freeways and Interstates.

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @Rob Augustine  @The  Some of these seemingly dormant and unattainable transit plans may get a really big boost in the not-too-distant future if the Feds decide to impose congestion pricing on the Atlanta freeway system as a way to virtually clear the Interstates of excessive local traffic so that the out-of-state and longer-distance through traffic that the Interstates were primarily designed for can flow much better through the Atlanta metro area since the State of Georgia has pretty much outright refused to either expand the Interstate network to accommodate the increasingly extremely heavy volumes of through traffic (especially the very heavy freight truck traffic that is a constant feature of Metro Atlanta interstates) or its local and regional mass transit network.   Whomever thinks that the Feds are just going to sit around and let a critical part of the nation's transportation grid become virtually impassable because the State of Georgia refuses to do its constitutionally-mandated job in maintaining and tending to the transportation network that it is responsible for is likely very much mistaken.   If the State of Georgia continues to refuse to do its job in helping to maintain, upgrade and expand the state's overall transportation network as needed (a la, the Interstates and mass transit), then the Feds are going to force the issue and do it for them and they may not be very nice about it when they do it.   The freeway system in the Atlanta Region has not been meaningfully expanded in over two decades while the population of the Atlanta Region has more than doubled in that time.   At the same time, access to transit has either stagnated or declined in most cases while the Atlanta Region has grown to become the largest metro area in the country east of the Mississippi without regional commuter rail service.   If the Feds intervene and impose congestion pricing on the freeways, driving on those freeways is going to become a heckuva lot more expensive as Metro Atlantans and North Georgians can expect to pay rates of up to $40 daily to get to-and-from work  as the unpopular concept of the I-85 HOT Lanes is imposed on all lanes of all major Metro Atlanta freeways and Interstates.

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  1. […] where does this leave metro Atlanta? Two follow-up pieces are worth reading. In one, longtime Atlanta columnist Maria Saporta – a devoted regionalist – suggests it’s time for the core to go it alone. (The piece also […]

  2. […] time for Atlanta, Fulton, and DeKalb to retake control of their own destinies It’s time for Atlanta, Fulton and DeKalb to retake control of their own destinies | SaportaRep… Enjoy! "The regional transportation sales tax was a rare opportunity for the 10-county […]