Mass transit week launched by pro-transportation sales tax campaign

By Maria Saporta

Transit is now taking center stage in the effort to pass the regional transportation sales tax.

Advocates for the July 31 referendum unveiled the beginning of “Mass Transit Week” from July 18 to July 27 (which is actually 10 days).

The campaign has organized teams that will be at the various transit stations throughout metro Atlanta to appeal to regular riders of MARTA, the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority’s Xpress buses as well as Cobb County Transit.

The series of events are “aimed at raising awareness around the importance of mass transit to the region and how many riders will be impacted if transit funding goes away,” said the press release announcing Mass Transit Week.

Part of the effort ill be to explain how the regional transportation sales tax will sustain and boost funding for transit. In fact, 52 percent of the funding for the $6.14 billion project list is devoted to transit projects and state-of-good-repair for MARTA

If the tax does not pass, funding for GRTA’s Xpress buses is scheduled to go away by the summer of 2013 — ending the popular suburban and exurban higher-end commuter bus service.

Xpress includes 33 commuter bus routes in 12 metro-area counties, connecting workers with jobs in downtown and Midtown Atlanta. This referendum will provide funding for its operations and maintenance from 2013-2022, and funding for capital investments such as bus replacement through 2017.

The release also explained that transit is a critical part of metro Atlanta’s overall transportation system. A recent report from the Brookings Institution ranked Atlanta 87th out of 100 top metro areas for its ability to provide public transit access to workplaces. Only 14.7 percent of metro Atlanta workers can use public transit to get to work within 90 minutes.

One of the key messages that the referendum advocates want to make is that transit impacts both suburban and in-town riders. Also, the more people who ride transit, the fewer people will be driving their cars — a key way to reduce congestion.

The Regional Transportation Referendum will provide funding for the following projects over the next decade:

· $95 million for GRTA Xpress

· $700 million for Clifton Rail Transit from the Lindbergh MARTA station to the Emory campus

· $600 million for MARTA elevator, escalator, and other repairs

· $600 million for the Atlanta Beltline and streetcar

· $175 million for a Regional Mobility Call Center and Transportation Services for older adults and disabled

· $225 million for transit service serving South DeKalb


Here is the schedule for Mass Transit Week:

Wednesday July 18th-

· Civic Center Marta (GRTA and MARTA) 6 a.m. to 8 a.m.

· Arts Center Marta (GRTA and MARTA) 6 a.m. to 8 a.m.

· Washington St. and MLK Jr. Dr. — 6 a.m. to 8 a.m.

· Jonesboro (8488 Tara Blvd. Jonesboro, GA 30236) 6 a.m. to 8 a.m.

Thursday July 19th

· Atlanta Motor Speedway 6 a.m. to 7 a.m.

· Douglas County (8800 Dorris Dr., Douglasville, GA 30134) 6 a.m. to 8 a.m.

· Discover Mills(3220 Sardis Church Rd., Buford GA 30519) 6 a.m. to 8 a.m.

· Acworth(6045 Lake Acworth Dr., Acworth, GA 30101) 6 a.m. to 7 a.m.

Friday July 20th

· Fayette County 5 a.m. to 7 a.m.

Monday July 23rd

· Cobb County Transit stops

Tuesday July 24th

· Five Points MARTA 6:30 a.m. to 9 a.m.

· Five Points MARTA 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday July 25th

· Civic Center MARTA (GRTA and MARTA) 6 a.m. to 8 a.m.

· Arts Center MARTA (GRTA and MARTA) 6 a.m. to 8 a.m.

· Washington St. and MLK Jr. Dr 6 a.m. to 8 a.m.

· Lindbergh Marta 6 a.m. to 8 a.m.

Thursday July 26th

· Stockbridge (4000 Mount Zion Pkwy, Stockbridge, GA 30281) 5:30 to 7:30 am

· McDonough(1059 Industrial Pkwy, McDonough, GA 30253) 5:30 to 7:30 am

· West End MARTA 6 a.m. to 8 a.m.

· Peachtree Center MARTA 6 a.m. to 8 a.m.

Friday July 27th

· Five Points MARTA 6 a.m. to 8 a.m.

· College Park MARTA 6 a.m. to 8 a.m.

· Lindbergh MARTA 6 a.m. to 8 a.m.

· HE Holmes MARTA 6 a.m. to 8 a.m.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

5 replies
  1. Guest says:

    Hilarious.  If the measure needed votes from transit supporters, it should havehad a compelling transit offering.
     
    The regional roundtable in the metro adopted an investment criteria of 10-40% transit capital.  They needed a very solid 60% transit capital to get my attention.  The flimsy 40% they chose gets a NO.Report

    Reply
  2. The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

    {{The series of events are “aimed at raising awareness around the importance of mass transit to the region and how many riders  will be impacted if transit funding goes away,” said the press release announcing Mass Transit Week…..
    …..If the tax does not pass, funding for GRTA’s Xpress buses is scheduled to go away by the summer of 2013 — ending the popular suburban and exurban higher-end commuter bus service……
    …..Xpress includes 33 commuter bus routes in 12 metro-area counties, connecting workers with jobs in downtown and Midtown Atlanta. This referendum will provide funding for its operations and maintenance from 2013-2022, and funding for capital investments such as bus replacement through 2017.}}
     
    This region needs much more than another increasingly small and mostly meaningless band-aid that the Georgia Legislature is “offering” in pushing their job of maintaining the state’s transportation network off on the voters to inadequately fund.
     
    The end of funding for GRTA Xpress commuter bus service may be one of those “kicks-in-the-pants” that this region and this state needs to take long-term transportation funding and planning much more seriously as tens-of-thousands of commuters in single-occupant vehicles (SOV’s) are forced onto already severely-congested rush hour roads after GRTA Xpress commuter buses cease operation.
     
    This region needs to simply stop continuing to barely tread water increasingly less on something that is as so completely vital to this region’s overall well-being and viability as transportation infrastructure.
     
    The end of GRTA Xpress commuter bus funding and operation just may be the (what should be a completely avoidable) crisis that gets this area’s desperately-needed attention when it comes to the transportation funding that is REALLY and TRULY-needed to lift this region out of potentially long-term economic doldrums (the prospects of which could have been completely avoided by taking transportation infrastructure investment seriously all along over the past two or more decades).Report

    Reply
  3. Ready2Drive says:

    The Transportation Referendum that is presented is a comprehensive plan that will address roadway concerns as well as transit concerns.  We can’t keep driving and using using transit and continue to get stuck in congestion and think that that is okay.  The passage of the Transportation Referendum is about improving our current transportation infrastructure and providing a better quality of life.Report

    Reply
    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

       @Ready2Drive
       If the T-SPLOST Referendum was such a great comprehensive plan then why didn’t the State Legislature go ahead and fund it themselves instead of pushing it off on the voters to decide?Report

      Reply
    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

       @Ready2Drive
       {{“We can’t keep driving and using using transit and continue to get stuck in congestion and think that that is okay.”}}
       
      We don’t think that getting stuck in congestion is okay, everyone hates congestion,
       
      It’s the inept Georgia Legislature that seemingly thinks that getting stuck in congestion is okay as it is they that refuses to do their constitutionally-mandated jobs in funding the so-called transportation needs of this state by burying a few major and critical transportation needs deep in a referendum list full of porkbarrel projects, political favors and giveaways to well-connected roadbuilders, land spectulators, real estate developers and ridiculously high-priced consultants to likely be rejected by a region full of understandably disillusioned voters.Report

      Reply

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