Perdue: ARC-MARTA deal a good one

Gov. Sonny Perdue said Wednesday he was pleased that the Atlanta Regional Commission and MARTA have worked out a deal that gets the beleaguered transit system $25 million in federal funding to continue operations. 

Through the deal with ARC, MARTA would receive the money, which is part of the federal stimulus package approved in Congress, and MARTA would pay for projects useful to the ARC counties with money the state says can be used only for projects, not operations. MARTA has $65 million in capital reserves.

The deal still faces some legal approvals, and might require the governor’s official OK, but Perdue said Wednesday he is all for it.

“It’s a good decision, a positive decision,” Perdue said at a Capitol news conference after an unrelated bill signing. “This is a good example by both entities of working together.”  

MARTA would still likely face serve reductions under the plan, but not nearly as severe as the ones feared before the deal.

MARTA depends on a sales tax levied in Fulton and DeKalb counties for more than half its revenues. As the economy contracted, so did that income, leaving MARTA with a $24 million shortfall for the next fiscal year, and a $40 million gap projected for the year after that.

An apparent solution was left hanging in the legislative session that adjourned month.

4 comments Add your comment

Pierce Randall

April 22nd, 2009
1:37 pm

Puh-lease. This is the two groups working together because Perdue’s legislature couldn’t get it together. Did the Governor expend political capital to help MARTA? No. Was he remotely open to a special session? No. Did he ask his lawyers to back MARTA spending its capital reserves anyway? No, in fact, the ruling was rather hasty, and came out contemporaneous to the Governor deciding not to quarter MARTA’s budget shortfall.

So thanks but no thanks, Perdue! You don’t get a pass on this one, just because someone else cleaned up the mess of good governance you and the state legislature left. Your answer was to let us carry guns on the trains and buses that do not run anymore, to the airport that will lose business if it doesn’t have a sufficient rapid transit connection.

EZRider

May 27th, 2009
9:43 am

Marta’s 65 Million for capital improvements isn’t nearly enough to expand rail service. Rail is the key, not bus service. The biggest mistake Marta, (and Georgia State Government) has made is no rail line along the top-end perimeter, from vinings (or cumberland mall) to Northlake mall. If Marta had a rail line along the top end perimeter, there would be a helluva lot more riders. Here is what Marta needs:

1. Privatization w/Leadership (will never happen)
2. Rail line along the top-end perimeter.
3. Rail lines further into the suburbs.
4. Better integration w/regional commuter carriers (including private ones) to feed rail lines.
5. Raise fares and offset with better discounts for unlimited ride breeze passes.

Chicago has an excellent mass transit system, with commuter rail lines that feed into the L. Atlanta’s problem is that it lacks the population density that Chicago has. The ARC should work with the freight rail carriers to establish commuter rail into the northwest and northeast suburbs, and then extend Marta Rail Service to integrate with that. Unfortunately, the population density of the Atlanta Area North of a Kennesaw to Alpharetta to Duluth line does not appear to support such a plan.

ATL Scouser

May 27th, 2009
9:58 am

EZ Rider–You come up with excellent points, but here are a few things to consider:

1) There already is light rail planned for the top end of the Perimeter. Go to the websites of GDOT’s Revive 285 or of the Transit Planning Board and you will see some of the proposed alignments.

2) If privatization was really that feasible for transit, then you would see private operators lining up to operate transit in Atlanta. Public transportation has too much risk for many private enterprises to handle. Also, you will still face bureaucracy from the private sector–Georgia Power anyone?

3) An efficient, circulatory bus system is needed to compliment rail transit in some of the denser areas of Metro Atlanta. This is also the model that the RTA proposes in the Chicagoland area with PACE buses serving the burbs and CTA buses serving the city.

Bryan

May 27th, 2009
12:05 pm

I think it’s a shame that Marta has to go through so much just to stay a float during these tough and challenging times. This is the motor that helps drive the entire metro area and Atlanta is what drives this state and the entire southeastern region. Why is an area the size of the metro area only with 48 miles of track when D.C. has double the track and stations? There are so many areas that need rail… especially in town areas that aren’t served. The real messed up thing is that the people of Atlanta didn’t want rail to come through their area just like the people of Gwinett and Cobb. Marta rail is one of the cleanest systems I’ve ever seen and with just a few incidents here and there one of the safest… even late at night. It’s a shame most people don’t realize the gem that is right there with the rail we have. Instead of building light rail and commuter rail where you are going to have to build a whole new set of tracks to support that type of train and have to buy completely different and new equipment and new facilities to maintain them why not just extend what we have and buy similar equipment that Marta already knows how to fix.