The Livable Communities Coalition

Working to improve Atlanta's quality of life through smart growth

Christman urges transit focus at roundtable meeting

Dear Member of the Roundtable Executive Committee,

Thank you for your commitment to our region through your work on the Roundtable.

As you work with other members of the committee to prepare a draft project list for consideration by the full Regional Transportation Roundtable, please remember these four reasons why a list that emphasizes transit makes so much sense for our region:

  1. In terms of jobs created, economic impact on a community, the ability to move people reliably between major job and population centers, and the positive impact on surrounding real estate development, rail transit offers an unsurpassed package of economic benefits. Businesses increasingly want to invest where permanent, reliable transit is available.
  2. “Atlanta tastes Dallas’ dust” was the headline in a recent issue of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  The accompanying story explained that, among other things, Dallas has built almost three times the miles of transit rail track that Atlanta has, and it is building more.  Other competitor cities in the Sun Belt that have made recent rail transit strides include Charlotte, Phoenix and Salt Lake City. Metro Atlantans are used to raising dust, not eating it.  We need to get to the front of the pack again.
  3. A strong majority of our citizens consistently send the message – through polls, focus groups, telephone town hall meetings, and other means – that they see expanded transit as a top priority. They want a balanced and equitable transportation investment program.
  4. As the recent ARC board discussion on Plan 2040 demonstrated, there is no other new transit funding source potentially available to the region. Roads will receive the lion’s share of transportation funding               that will be made available through the TIP, local SPLOSTS, and the TIA set-aside. If there is no significant funding for transit provided through the regional project list, there will be no expansion of the region’s transit system for the next generation. Without help from next year’s tax referendum, there is no Plan A for transit, much less a Plan B.

Bottom line: The project list should include at least 60 percent, or approximately $4 billion in transit projects.  We’ve got to do something different if we expect to make a difference.

Transportation  spending in our region over the years 2013 – 2023, including the projected sales tax revenues, will likely reach $16 billion.  If we allocated $4 billion to transit, we’d still be spending just 25 percent of total transportation revenue on transit.  Can our community afford to do anything less?

Thank you again for your time and for your hard work.

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