By Maria Saporta
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said Wednesday that he has problems with the recommendations of the Regional Transit Governance Task Force. Reed was one of the members of that task force.
The recommendations that have been put in a draft bill include several issues that could be detrimental to the Atlanta region, and especially its largest transit system — MARTA.
“I’m going to be calm and thoughtful, but at this point I don’t have a very favorable view of the bill,” Reed said. “I have real unreadiness about it.”
The mayor said one of the troublesome issues is the recommendation to get MARTA to turn over most of its powers to a new state-created transit council in return for getting flexibility in how it can spend the one penny MARTA sales tax.
“I don’t believe the issues should be coupled,” Reed said, adding that giving MARTA that flexibility should be approved in its own right and not as part of a transit governance bill.
The mayor spoke to a couple of reporters about the transit governance bill after breaking ground on the Atlanta Streetcar project — where U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood spoke of the unique cooperation that exists in Georgia between a Republican governor — Nathan Deal, and the Democratic mayor of the capitol city.
The mayor was especially distressed by the way the transit governance proposal was handled — especially when the Atlanta region would not have a final say on transit operations in the 13-county metro area.
“I wanted to be in support of the transit governance bill,” Reed said. “I don’t think that when we are going to need to work cooperatively that we should begin the conversation with that kind of tactic.”
Later the mayor said: “This is not the path to success.”
When asked what impact such a regional transit governance proposal would have on the concerted effort to pass a regional transportation sales tax later this year, Mayor Reed responded: “I think it will be harmful.”
Polling of the Atlanta region has shown that the tax can only pass if residents of Atlanta, Fulton and DeKalb counties come out in force to vote for it.