The House overwhelmingly passed a bill to help Clayton County bus riders, who are about to see their transit service close down completely on Wednesday.
By a vote of 142 to 14, the House voted to raise the county’s sales tax cap, opening the door for the county to join MARTA by levying an additional 1 percent sales tax, if it chooses to do that.
Last year people took just over 2 million rides on the county’s bus service, C-Tran. The Clayton County board of commissioners, facing a budget shortfall for C-Tran as well as the overall county budget, voted 4-1 to shut the bus service down. About two-thirds of C-Tran riders say they have no access to a car.
Joining MARTA would require both a referendum and a county commission vote, said sponsor of the legislation, Rep. Roberta Abdul-Salaam (D-Riverdale). That commission vote might come from the same group of people who voted to shut down the service.
Abdul-Salaam has also introduced a bill (HB 1446) that would call for a non-binding Clayton County referendum on the issue, in order to gauge the people’s support. If both the bills passed, it was unclear whether the county would hold two referendums or one. Abdul-Salaam said she believed it was just one, but MARTA’s general counsel said it would probably take a second, binding referendum.