Wall Street favors Atlanta’s MARTA vote; approved in every ATL precinct

By David Pendered

The $2.5 billion to $3.5 billion that Atlanta voters approved Tuesday for MARTA are part of a $175 billion funding package voters nationwide approved in new, dedicated taxes to pay for mass transit, according to report Thursday by Moody’s Investors Service.

Moody’s analysts determined that the new funding measures are generally a positive sign for the transit agencies. However, there’s a downside if revenues come in lower than expected or costs are higher than forecast.

Atlanta Streetcar, 11:16

The route of the Atlanta Streetcar is to be expanded under the proposal Atlanta voters approved Tuesday. Credit: David Pendered

Here’s Moody’s full statement on the new 0.5 percent sales tax voters approved for MARTA:

  • “The new revenues, on top of an existing 1 percent MARTA sales tax, will fund expansion and enhancement of the U.S.’s ninth-largest transit service. The new tax is expected to bring in $2.5 billion – $3.5 billion over the next 40 years. The expansion is beneficial for Atlanta residents because it will include a major bus service upgrade and also fund the rail and bus expansion, resulting in better service and reliability. In fiscal 2015, MARTA transported about 136 million passengers, for an average weekly ridership of 433,000.”

Atlanta voters approved the additional sales tax for MARTA by a margin of more than two to one, according to a SaportaReport analysis of unofficial results from Fulton County election officials.

The “Yes” vote was 71.3 percent compared to the “No” vote of 28.7 percent. The actual numbers were 128,822 in favor, and 51,746 against, according to the unofficial returns.

The MARTA sales tax was approved by a majority of voters in each of Atlanta’s voting precincts, according to the unofficial returns.

The narrowest margin of victory for the additional sales tax was in precinct 08C. It was approved by 51.7 percent of voters. The precinct is located in the heart of the North Buckhead community. The polls are located in the Northwest Presbyterian Church, located at 4300 Northside Drive, a short distance west of Chastain Memorial Park.

marta trains

MARTA intends to use a portion of the additional sales tax to make high-capacity rail improvements and build infill rail stations. File/Credit: blogs.cresa.com

The largest margin of victory for the additional sales tax was in precinct 05A1. It was approved by 86.4 percent of voters. The precinct is located in the heart of Reynoldstown. The precinct is located in in the southern portion of the northeast Atlanta quadrant, on the southeast side of the CSX-Hulsey railroad yard.

Moody’s latest report did not take into account a related transit tax issue that voters approved Tuesday.

Voters approved the proposed 0.5 percent sales tax for transportation improvements that are not related to MARTA or another transit component.

Voters approved the measure by a margin of more than two to one, according to unofficial election results.

The votes in favor of the additional tax came is at 67.9 percent, with 121.036 votes. The negative vote was 32.1 percent, with 57,233 votes, according to unofficial election results.

The Inman Park area registered the strongest demand for transportation project funding. The precinct O2E registered 85.1 percent of voters who favored the additional tax for transportation projects.

The lowest level of support was reported at 56.5 percent. Turnout was small compared to other precincts, but each vote counts: 274 in favor of the tax and 211 against, according to unofficial results.

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

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