The MARTA Board of Directors will vote on Thursday, October 4 on how the Atlanta half-penny sales tax will be used over the next 40 years. See the full plan overview in the 9/27/18 AJC.
Here are my thoughts on this updated thoughts on MARTA’s updated funding plan:
1) The Campbellton Rd Light Rail Transit (LRT) & Greenbriar Transit Center can be a win for transit dependent riders and will draw “choice riders” from that corridor, City of South Fulton, Camp Creek and beyond. However, it needs to be the #1 project on that list for implementation and use an accelerated schedule (remember The I-85 bridge?). Since the #83 Campbellton Rd
/Greenbriar bus Route is #1, it should be prioritized as #1 in project scheduling and completion. That
would be the start of unprecedented equity in this major project.
2) Emory will always secure funding for what it wants. Bravo MARTA for realizing they could reallocate some of their originally designated funding. Perhaps this is a move toward equity.
3) BeltLine. I agree with Councilmen Dickens and Hillis who said in Wednesday’s Transportation Committee meeting that the south end of the Beltline needs to be done before other BeltLine areas to insure it gets done. They discussed how south side projects are always done last and if funding run out, those areas suffer most. That would be a real equity move! Besides, the folks who live on the BeltLine are mostly choice riders, they won’t suffer any loss other than pride. They will get other funding including from their own financial portfolios, if they choose.
4) I still believe the Fulton Industrial Blvd. (FIB) MARTA Station should be added. The extra funding that went to the BeltLine should go here. This is a key regional job corridor as well as the gateway to Cobb County. Cobb residents overwhelmingly used the H.E.Holmes MARTA station when originally opened (as the Hightower station). Today, on Falcons and other game days, Cobb residents fill that station to capacity.
5) The FIB station would be the gateway to the future Cobb County MARTA connection and take thousands of cars off the I-20 FIB corridor daily as well as help Six Flags employees and visitors; both UPS distribution centers and more. The #73 FIB bus route, out of the Holmes station, ranks #6 in MARTA ridership. Another reason to add this station. Cobb County’s Planning and Division Manager, Eric Meyer, said after a recent ARC meeting that he is all for the FIB station and would be happy to work with stakeholders to make it happen.
6) If we can’t get FIB right now, “At least give us the Holmes heavy rail extension to I-285 at MLKing. That way, drivers would exit there and take MARTA into the city” says Councilman Dickens. That extension was supposed to be done about eight years ago. According to MARTA, ‘There was a glitch in funding for that project.’ Yet another prime example of why south and west side projects need to be done first!
7) The state of Georgia needs to step up their game. They benefit from everything that happens in metro Atlanta. They use all that Metro Atlanta has to offer to sell prospective companies on why they need to expand or relocate here. Yet, other than $100 million for a transit funding along GA 400, on the north side, no other funding has been allocated. Shame on you! Metro Atlantans pay state taxes. A portion of that should go to MARTA expansion to give is any chance of decreasing our ridiculous traffic woes.
And, perhaps in 2019, our legislators will introduce and pass legislation to allow for a portion of Georgia’s fuel tax to be used for MARTA… something other than expanding our roads by adding more lanes. We are among very few states who do not fund public transit from the fuel tax because this state was controlled by the auto industry for so long (they wanted people to buy cars, not take public transit.). With Ford and GM assembly plants long gone, Georgia is still operating as if those plants are still here. What’s up with that?? Being 18 years into the new millennium, what are our legislators waiting for??
Here is an updated article with thoughts from a GSU researcher, Chris Wyczalkowski on MARTA’s current funding challenges (click on the MARTA article if it does not automatically load.):