By David Pendered
A bipartisan group has formed to promote state legislation that urges metro Atlanta’s transit agencies to establish a single website that would make it easier for passengers to plan and pay for trips.
State Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta) sponsored Senate Resolution 735. Co-signers include Sen. Jason Carter (D-Decatur), Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta), Sen. Fran Millar (R-Dunwoody), and Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega). The Senate Transportation Committee could take it up as early as Wednesday.
The legislation is relevant as the nation pauses to honor the Martin Luther King, Jr. national holiday. By making it easier to plan and pay for a transit trip, the site may enable people to take a job a distance from their home. Jobs were the subject of a poverty initiative King launched shortly before his death.
King announced the Poor People’s Campaign five months before he was assassinated, speaking at an SCLC staff retreat. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference intends to reignite the campaign, according to SCLC CEO Charles Steele, Jr.
According to Stanford University’s King research institute:
- “King planned for an initial group of 2,000 poor people to descend on Washington, D.C., southern states and northern cities to meet with government ofﬁcials to demand jobs, unemployment insurance, a fair minimum wage, and education for poor adults and children designed to improve their self-image and self-esteem (King, 29 November 1967).”
Steele said the SCLC is taking up the poverty issue, again.
“A lot of people in this country are one paycheck from poverty,” Steele said. “People are worse off than they had been before. It is time to reinvigorate and refocus the Poor People’s Campaign.”
A website won’t solve transit challenges in metro Atlanta.
But Beach has said it may ease challenges for riders who must use transit, because they don’t own a vehicle or have access to one, as well as those who choose to use transit.
The proposal comes after Beach’s widely publicized transit trip from Kennesaw State University to the Gwinnett Arena.
The 32-mile journey takes about 45 minutes by car. Beach’s trip took three and a half hours. Beach traveled on three transit systems – Cobb County Transit, MARTA, and Gwinnett County Transit.
“When you look at transit in the region, we all are doing some very good things, but I think we need to be more collaborated and coordinated,” Beach said at the conclusion of a video of his transit trip.
“I’ve always said we can fly to New York City faster than you can go from Kennesaw State University to Gwinnett,” Beach said. “A flight to New York City is about an hour and 35 minutes. We’re here, though.”
The Atlantic Cities blog ran a story about the pending legislation under the headline: “Atlanta Makes a (Modest) Push for Transit Regionalism”:
- “A unified transit website is a good start to making Atlanta’s transit experience the ‘seamless’ and ‘collaborative’ one that Beach believes it should be,” the story states. “It’s also far from a blanket resolution to the metro area’s transit problems. Even the most efficient transit planning tool doesn’t replace the need for broader service coordination.”