Georgia ready to fund transit? Nope.

We’ve been fooled again.

Before the legislative session, we thought this would be the year Georgia would finally invest in transit.

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We had hope. Maybe the state would shift the fourth penny sales tax on gas to transit. That would be about $180 million a year. Now that’s some real money.

Then the House unveiled its plan. The gas sales tax was gone and being converted to motor fuel taxes. That meant that all transportation money could only be spent on roads and bridges.

So House Transportation Chairman Jay Roberts, R-Ocila, offered up a one-time $100 million bond for transit.

But at the last minute, Jay Roberts performed the great disappearing act. Money for transit was stripped from his bill.

Here we go again. We continue to be stuck in idle. Does anyone really think our region can grow if we only invest in roads?

We have to face the reality. We need regional transit. We need smart growth. We need walkable communities.

A few political apologists have mumbled that we may get some crumbs for transit when the transportation bill gets to the Senate. We just need to be patient.

But how long do we have to wait?

Already we’re seeing our bad decisions play out.

Companies are moving out of the suburbs to be next to MARTA. Young professionals are moving to places where they can walk, stroll the BeltLine, ride bikes, hop on a streetcar or take a MARTA train or bus. That’s where the creative class wants to live, so that’s where innovative companies want to be.

It takes up to a dozen years to plan, design and build a new rail line. So with companies already moving out, we are so late to this game.

And yet our state leaders keep doing the same thing they’ve always done. Build roads, not transit.  They’re investing for the last century, not the future.

What’s the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

 

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