Working to improve Atlanta's quality of life through smart growth
About Fair Share
A Fair Share for Transit
As the 10-county metro Atlanta region prepares to vote on a transportation sales tax referendum on Aug. 21, 2012, the Livable Communities Coalition and its partners have begun a campaign to ensure that at least 40 percent and as much as 60 percent of the new project funding (new funding that would be made available through the proposed penny sales tax) goes to transit projects. Using estimates that the proposed penny tax would generate $7 billion over 10 years, the goal of 40 – 60 percent would translate to between $2.8 billion and $4.2 billion for transit over the life of the 10-year tax.
Such an investment would send an important signal. It would signify a substantial shift toward a balanced road and transit transportation network. Metro Atlanta might even start shedding comparisons to Los Angeles and Houston and begin to draw comparisons towards more transit-focused cities like Denver, Dallas and Washington, DC.
The legislation requires that each region create a list specifying the projects that will be funded with new tax revenues before holding an election to approve the tax. Special regional “roundtables” of local elected officials share responsibility for creating the list with the planning director for the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT).
How much of the project list for transit?
Given that business, civic, and political leaders from the Atlanta region led the effort to pass the legislation that enables the Aug. 21, 2012 transportation sales tax referendum, it is very likely that the metro Atlanta region will create a list and hold an election. Two uncertainties remain: How much of the project list will be dedicated to public transportation relative to roads? And, will voters tax themselves to support these proposed investments?
To advance the campaign, the Livable Communities Coalition has formed a Transit Campaign Stakeholders Advisory Committee. Last year, the committee focused on helping the Livable Communities Coalition develop proposals for national foundation grants to support the campaign, and it helped the Coalition critique the transportation project selection criteria that were developed to guide the choice of projects that will be considered for funding.
This year, the Coalition must influence the project list to ensure that public transportation gets its fair share. That process will be completed by Oct. 15. Assuming that a list is developed that provides a fair share for transit, the Coalition must ensure that the referendum wins the support of metro Atlanta voters when it is presented for their consideration at the general primary election in on Aug. 21, 2012.