Working to improve Atlanta's quality of life through smart growth
Roundtable completes its task; it’s now up to voters
A message from Livable Communities Coalition executive director Ray Christman:
To Fair Share for Transit partners:
We’re pleased to announce that our efforts to create more transit options in the Atlanta area have paid off.
As you all probably know, the Metro Atlanta Regional Transportation Roundtable last week approved a project list allocating 52.4 percent of the anticipated $6.14 billion revenue from a proposed 1-cent sales tax to transit projects.
Last week’s vote was transformative and set a new direction for the region’s transportation priorities. It signaled that the region’s view of transportation has shifted from a focus on roads to a more balanced policy that includes transit as an equally important component.
What does this mean for the region?
It means that the region will see more than four out of every 10 dollars collected through the proposed tax being spent to develop new rail options in Cobb County, in the Clifton Corridor, and along the Beltline, which are expected to serve in aggregate nearly 65,000 riders a day. That number doesn’t include the 500,000 riders now served by MARTA, which will receive an infusion of $600 million to maintain its lines and equipment.
It means that an estimated 41,300 commuters will find new or enhanced bus routes that will reduce their traveling time and make their rides more efficient.
It means that the region will see a decrease in road congestion as well as enhanced transportation options that will spur development.
But it also means much more beyond those numbers.
To begin, it means that many residents will no longer be stranded in their homes on weekends due to the absence of transit options. It means that it will be easier and quicker to get to work each day. It means that the disparity between the halves with a car and the have-nots without one will shrink.
At its final meeting, Roundtable members pointed to the spirit of regional cooperation that ultimately led to agreement on the final project list. Metro Atlanta residents can only hope this spirit will continue. It will take increased cooperation to ensure that the 10-county area continues to grow and provide a high quality-of-life. And, with the approval of this project list, elected officials around the region signaled they are prepared to do just that.
But first we need to pass the referendum, scheduled for July 29, 2012. While a recent AJC poll found that 51 percent of likely voters would pass the referendum if it were held today, that margin is very thin. The debate is really just beginning, and the issue will face intense scrutiny from voters.
A major campaign will soon be launched by private business leaders to educate voters about the importance of the referendum. This campaign will need to engage people from all segments of our community if it is to be successful, and the Livable Communities Coalition hopes – with your help – to play an important role in making this effort a success.
In the meantime, I think all transit advocates should feel gratified by the success of the Fair Share for Transit Initiative. It played a key role in making the case that a majority of citizens in the region want more transit and that investment in public transportation options will generate substantial economic and quality of life benefits.
We look forward to staying in touch.