Special series: It’s time to end MARTA’s boom-and-bust budgeting

(NOTE: This is the first in a special series examining MARTA. Part 2 will be posted Monday evening.)

On May 14, this newspaper ran a story that began:

“MARTA’s managers appear determined to hold the line on bus and train fares for another year, but unresolved labor problems and a desire to find new sources of revenue will be continuing worries . . . .”

Yep, that story ran on May 14 — in 1984.

What has the transit agency learned since then? Evidently not much. MARTA still awaits salvation, a train that never seems to arrive. If you read the digital board in a station, it may say, “North Springs, 13 minutes,” or “Airport, 2 minutes.” Perhaps MARTA should add, “Financial Rescue, forget it.”

As you may have heard, MARTA now faces a $120 million budget hole. Believe it or not, the agency projected as early as in 2006 that it would be short $60 million by now, even though revenues were forecast to rise for a decade. Problem was, expenses piled up even faster.

One might summarize the financial history of MARTA (and most public entities) this way:

The economy takes a turn for the worse; MARTA’s budget, which already assumed some operating losses, goes from tenuous to disastrous. Officials warn of (take your pick) drastic, draconian, devastating service cuts unless someone, anyone, finds $50 million in new annual funding. Because the economy has also hit state and local governments, no new money materializes. Service is cut and employees laid off by the hundreds.

The economy takes a turn for the better; MARTA’s losses don’t disappear but do shrink. Still, no new $50 million. Yet the agency restores service and reinstates jobs by the hundreds. Sales tax revenues rise, but expenses rise faster.

The economy takes a turn for the worse . . . .

For a quarter-century at least, MARTA has waited. It has hired lobbyists and PR agents. Managers have come and gone, as have four governors, five Atlanta mayors and various county leaders, of all political leanings. No matter; no new money.

It’s time to stop assuming that things are going to change.

It’s time to stop assuming that the money will come, and that MARTA’s leaders should keep approving boom-and-bust budgets rather than passing what’s sustainable.

It’s time to stop assuming that MARTA itself can or should expand throughout the region.

It’s time to start assuming that MARTA is what it is: One transit entity among many, one that can interlink with the others to play a relatively small but essential transportation role in metro Atlanta. One that must live with today’s 1-penny sales tax for its primary funding.

Alternatives are lacking. Dedicated state funding is a pipe dream — for political reasons, but also because, as the lean budgets lately show, no amount of state spending is truly dedicated.

The Transportation Investment Act of 2010 may generate some $7 billion over a decade if metro voters approve a new 1-cent levy. But, with apologies to the Beltline, the biggest challenges to metro mobility lie on or beyond I-285, and OTP voters are more likely to bite on projects that don’t bear a sullied brand.

In any case, the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority would oversee rail or bus projects funded by the new levy. The idea that GRTA should then turn the new tracks or routes over to MARTA is loopy.

With a clearer view of its role in Atlanta, MARTA could better tackle the problems and opportunities it faces in its current size. There are plenty of each.

Next: How MARTA fell into its current hole.

172 comments Add your comment

Michael H. Smith

May 14th, 2010
8:54 pm

GUB’MENT Transportation is definitely politics of dependence. Kyle was against it, before he supported it. :lol:

BW

May 14th, 2010
9:06 pm

Again what is the solution? Which group of bureaucrats do you prefer to run it? Any group will be prone to mismanage the funds…is this is devil that you know argument? Yes the ‘OTP’ voters in the new tax district will want other options but I personally now people have started to take the Express buses just to avoid the traffic and would take a train if it were more convenient. This state needs new transportation vision not old cynicism.

Dave

May 14th, 2010
9:09 pm

I hope the second part of your piece says that if State money is a pipe dream, then State interference and control should end. Tough to swim when the big boys from the next town over keep dunking you hoping you’ll sink.

Michael H. Smith

May 14th, 2010
10:15 pm

Which group of bureaucrats do you prefer to run it?

None Brucie!

The people of Georgia do not need a government of the state, by the state and for the state.

Tiger Woods + Jesse James = SuperBAD meets SuperEVIL in "SuperUGLY!"

May 14th, 2010
10:33 pm

If MARTA wanted to in small part at least help improve it’s financial picture it would raise it’s fares from the absurdly low rate of $2.00 to at least the $3.00-$5.00 mark to help attempt to balance its books, support existing service and maybe expand if it wanted, at least if it could avoid the temptation to mismanage funds, as has been the case in the past. With $2.00 fares, it doesn’t seem that the agency even desires to at times keep operating on it’s own, much less improve or expand to a level of a real international city. You know, the kind of service that people highly recommend to visitors and newcomers, instead of one that is usually of last resort.

Tiger Woods + Jesse James = SuperBAD meets SuperEVIL in "SuperUGLY!"

May 14th, 2010
10:49 pm

Dear Common Sence,
Why can’t I, as a North Georgia commuter have many more transportation options like a high-quality commuter rail service that reaches all over the state of Georgia and even into surrounding states like Tennessee, Alabama, South Carolina and North Carolina that makes the daily commute for millions of Georgia motorists much better and opening up more of the state for residential, commercial and industrial development and making my commute less hellacious and giving me more mobility options with more places that I would be able to choose from to live and work? Why can’t I a high-quality rapid transit service available that takes me all over Metro Atlanta and consists of 24-hour bus, trolley, cable car, light-rail and heavy-rail trains in addition to far-reaching commuter rail trains? Don’t my state and local political leaders know that I would very much be willing to pay a premium rate for a premium service that is mechanically safe, clean, efficient, secure and convenient? What is the problem?

Sincerely, Frustrated with transportation planning and management in Georgia.

Michael H. Smith

May 14th, 2010
11:12 pm

Why can’t I, as a North Georgia commuter have many more transportation options like a high-quality commuter rail service that reaches all over the state of Georgia

It is very possible – at least in Georgia – but highly improbable because of the politics of dependency.

Curious though if you would be willing to actually personally invest in the kind of system you say you want if that system were created as a private public corporate entity and not as another GUB’MENT owned system?

Jon

May 14th, 2010
11:41 pm

“But, with apologies to the Beltline, the biggest challenges to metro mobility lie on or beyond I-285, and OTP voters are more likely to bite on projects that don’t bear a sullied brand.”

Oh, goodie…let’s just add another 16 lanes and call it a day.

ex MARTA employee

May 15th, 2010
12:17 am

There are many culprits who have led to the current depressed state of MARTA including an inept CEO (Ford), many unqualified in upper management (Boyd, Perry), the state legislature and a Republican governor who has only recently acknowledged the transportation issue. The fundamental argument re: MARTA is this: should public transportation be required to make a profit? The same question should be asked of public health services such as Grady Hospital…should it be required to make a profit or is it providing a public service that is to be tax payer and government funded with the goal of breaking even at the end of each year? If it is to be required to make a profit, then allow it to be totally privatized and the cost CAN go up to $5. Of course, this scenario discounts those who are totally dependent on public transportation. If it is to be government funded, then it should be STATE supported such as a gas tax. There are no easy answers, but until this question is asked and answered, a true strategy will be hard to come by.

Also, more care should be given to who sits on the Board b/c it has for too long been a wasteland where incompetent people go just to be able to say “I’m on a Board”.

Stoned Mountain

May 15th, 2010
12:29 am

Kyle Wingfield —

A few questions…. Have you ever ridden a MARTA bus or train? Have you ever talked to any Atlanta public transit riders? Have you ever examined the history of mass transit in America, or talked to people who specialize in the economics of public transportation, including capital needs and how transit operations work in major metropolitan areas of the U.S.?

Just trying to assure myself you have a grasp of the challenges facing MARTA and other urban transit systems so that we can take seriously your recommendations for improving public transportation in the Atlanta metropolitan community. Thanks in advance for your response.

Virginia

May 15th, 2010
12:30 am

Two bus drivers swipe money with Breeze cards and I bet the CEO will just give them a slap on the wrists while MARTA cuts out routes that disabled,elderly, and low-income riders depend on to get to work,school,medical appointments,etc.You think we should be so gratful to have transportation that we’ll fork over $5-6 per ride? I think not! Most of the riders I know,including myself,could not afford that much! If the Lottery can pay for Pre-K,why couldn’t the already-paid for Toll pay for public transit? Or do you really want more roads,more pollution, and more unemployment when riders are left stranded at home and cannot get to work? MARTA already has a bad reputation when it comes to disabled folks trying to get a job (”Sorry, I can’t hire you. MARTA’s unreliable”.) time and time again, MARTA proves the unwilling employer right when it comes to hiring disabled persons. I also heard,”Can’t you Mommy and Daddy bring you to Work?” How patronising! Selling food in the stations is a bad idea too. haven’t you seen the messes people leave in the stations,trains,and buses? I’ve been riding MARTA ,CCT,and GCT for about 32 years and I’ve seen the messes, especially when the drivers let riders eat or drink on the buses and trains.

Matt

May 15th, 2010
12:55 am

MARTA should not get any state funding until it expands beyond two counties, regardless of politics. Fares should adopt a milege systems like DC’s metro, $5.00 from Doraville/NS to the Airport should be the maximum.

MARTA is less corrupt than other big city systems but it is still an awful system. I relocated intown and tried it for time but eventually I bought a car to save 2 hours of my life every day.

CD

May 15th, 2010
4:49 am

Stoned Mountain – Are you expecting substance or something. Kyle is just writing a shallow opinion piece that is expected by his employer to facilitate much shallow opinionated debate much of which will not be based on his article but based on preconceived unrelated political opinions.

Matt – MARTA would love to expand to other counties but it is kind of hard when other counties vote against it. It makes it a little tough for a “metro” transit system when there are about 20 counties in the metropolitan area each with their own transportation agenda.

Michael H. Smith

May 15th, 2010
7:12 am

Gee, how many times does the word NO mean something other than NO to MARTA and its supporters?

Get this MARTA fans “PUBLIC” TRANS lovers and GUB’MENT dependency pushers, there are a good number of people who will NEVER give you what YOU want.

You bet I got my own “capitalist” agenda that does not include your GUB’MENT owned and operated transportation system or systems CD and I’m sticking to it.

Kyle's Korner

May 15th, 2010
7:41 am

Marta is clearly out of ideas. I read where one plan was to build a $50 million bridgeway over the Atlanta Aquarium. Talk about jumping the shark.

Similarly, Kyle has jumped the track here. The one cent tax is a dangerous suggestion. A single penny on this rail would only derail it, (and smush the penny into smithereens). Even schoolchildren know that.

Why can’t Marta’s penny pinchers simply take the budget, and divide it by the number of tickets-to-ride sold in a year, and come up with a fair fare.

But whatever number of tickets-to-ride they estimate, they need to add one, because the girl that’s driving me mad is going away. I think I’m gonna be sad. I think it’s today. Yeah.

Lynn43

May 15th, 2010
8:13 am

Kyle, I remember many years ago, probably before you were born, a controversy came about because of the “force appointment” of the Chairman of the Board. The people in charge of appointing Board members had wanted to involve people in the community who actually rode Marta, so they appointed a woman of welfare to the Board. When it became time to appoint a new Chairman, because of some policy, they had to appoint this woman who could not, nor had the knowledge, to even manage her finances or run an organiztion.

People with lack of financial knowledge or vision have constantly been in “the driver’s seat” for many years, and until this changes, no amount of money will fix the problem.

Just look at what the right kind of management has done for Grady.

Bill

May 15th, 2010
8:13 am

Michael Smith,

No Government subsidies for transportation? Does that mean you are willing to give up (or pay for your use of) the interstates, and the county road that runs past your home. Mass transit gets a small fraction of the support that highways get, and it is time to change that formula in a major way.

It appears the you feel like those who ride MARTA should bear the entire cost, or as Kyle suggest divide the budget by the ridership to establish fares. On the other hand, you do not appear uncomfortable with having other people subsidize your highways.

Michael H. Smith

May 15th, 2010
8:21 am

No Government subsidies for transportation?

I’ve never made such a statement as that Bill, those are your chosen words – lies.

So Bill, if you are going tell your lies at least tell them on yourself and not me.

Morrus

May 15th, 2010
8:23 am

Curiously, in a supposed anti-incumbent year, most of the departing are not retiring but seeking higher office. We may recycle more than we replace. The bad news is that a frustrating 114 seats still have but one contestant. Two of them aren’t even incumbents, meaning they will affect state policy without being vetted by voters. And I have to think that we’d be better off if many had run instead for the Legislature — and cut down on the number running unopposed. Georgia’s problems are numerous. They aren’t going away. There’s too much stale thinking at the Capitol, on both sides of the aisle. New voices would be welcome.

Michael H. Smith

May 15th, 2010
8:34 am

Oh and for the record “Lair Bill” who is joining the ranks of “Lair Brucie Wilcox”: I don’t think MARTA or GRTA should even exist!

I’m in favor of a statewide public private rail system with the State owning the “proprietary rails”, which is the only taxpayer subsidy that should ever exist.

Byron Mathison Kerr

May 15th, 2010
8:35 am

“It’s time to start assuming that MARTA is what it is: One transit entity among many, one that can interlink with the others to play a relatively small but essential transportation role in metro Atlanta. …”

“relatively small but essential”??? The sole transportation system for the two core metro Atlanta counties? The only one with an extensive (if only two county) firm rail system? The one whose large bus system covers a much tighter area, making it incomparable to the others?

Kyle, I know MARTA has its problems, both internally and externally — but this highly questionable assertion alone seriously discredits your “special series.”

I am going to pass on this one in lieu of, hopefully, more objective reporting from elsewhere. One should always be extra careful of the “facts” presented in an opinion “political commentary” article.

CJ

May 15th, 2010
8:42 am

Dedicated state funding is a pipe dream — for political reasons,…

Exactly.

Georgia Republicans are racists. Poor and working class African-Americans rely on MARTA to get to and from work. Therefore, Georgia Republicans hate MARTA.

Note to those who would accuse me of playing the race card: It is the Republicans under the Gold Dome who are playing the race card. I’m just calling them out on it.

Michael H. Smith

May 15th, 2010
8:50 am

Yeah, I believe you CJ. You are not playing the ethnic card, you’re not a shameless bigot, you are just prejudice as hell!

Michael H. Smith

May 15th, 2010
9:13 am

A small footnote is necessary at this time to erase some “stereotypical crap” that has been inferred on poor people:

There are more poor white people than poor black people in this country, if receiving government assistance is the indicator.

DannyX

May 15th, 2010
9:52 am

“”The Transportation Investment Act of 2010 may generate some $7 billion over a decade if metro voters approve a new 1-cent levy. But, with apologies to the Beltline, the biggest challenges to metro mobility lie on or beyond I-285, and OTP voters are more likely to bite on projects that don’t bear a sullied brand.”"

So Kyle, you want DeKalb and Fulton to continue paying the 1 cent MARTA tax. You also want DeKalb and Fulton to pay an additional 1 cent sales tax to fund transportation projects outside the perimeter mainly to the benefit of Cobb, Gwinnett, and Cherokee counties.

That’s the craziest thing I have read in a long time.

Scott

May 15th, 2010
9:52 am

“It’s time to start assuming that MARTA is what it is: One transit entity among many, one that can interlink with the others to play a relatively small but essential transportation role in metro Atlanta. One that must live with today’s 1-penny sales tax for its primary funding.”
Kyle…you are just plain wrong…last time I looked half a MILLION people a week isn’t some SMALL role. You need to get over this ideology vs facts that your buddies in the legislature subscribe to. Too bad we cant fire you, but I am sure as hell going to be working to fire Jill Chambers and Jan Jones and all the other anti-transit bozos. Lets talk about MARTA being singled out over every other transit agency in the state as unable to use the funds from the new sales tax. Atlanta voters are not going to vote to pave their way further in the hole…Kyle, you are just plain wrong and too bad you are also not objective and horribly biased

Kyle Wingfield

May 15th, 2010
9:56 am

Jon: Some of the projects will most likely be roads. But there will almost certainly be an OTP transit component as well.

ex-MARTA employee: I’ll get into the P&L question later in this series (i.e. next week).

Stoned Mountain: I commute on the train 4-5 days a week. When I lived in Brussels, I also took public transportation to work every day, as well as many weekends (my wife and I didn’t own a car the first 1.5 years we lived there). I have spent hours and hours talking with MARTA management, legislators who work on transportation issues, and outside transportation experts. You may end up disagreeing with me, but it won’t be because I haven’t done my homework.

Scott

May 15th, 2010
9:57 am

Kyle…have a look at this short vid:

http://www.youtube.com/user/1standMain

Its called SPRAWLANTA…perhaps you’ll learn something

Scott

May 15th, 2010
9:59 am

Brussels is a nice transit option that is highly subsidised by who?…government. MARTA gets not a dime from the state yet the state wants to micromanage and control every aspect (and we see how well that works at the DOT)

Scott

May 15th, 2010
10:02 am

Kyle, why dont you do an interview with Dr Beverly Scott and publish it (I am totally serious). I would like to hear her answer some of the questions you are asking. I think it would be very constructive and might give us all some more perspective

Scott

May 15th, 2010
10:05 am

One more thing (then I’ll shut up for a while :-)
You forget that the gas tax goes only to roads and bridges so there is a funding source there already. This would be the only avenue of funding for transit based projects. Take a look a Concept 3 (which the legislature endorsed in the bill). That would make Atlanta truly world class

Kyle Wingfield

May 15th, 2010
10:05 am

Byron Mathison, Scott and others: Transit in metro Atlanta as a whole is small relative to other modes of transportation, because most people commute in cars. I don’t think anyone disputes that. But I’m not saying that small = insignificant or unimportant.

CJ: So were the Democrats who didn’t provide state funding to MARTA for the first 30 years of its existence also racist? Can we please engage on the substance of this issue? Because I can assure you that the “Republicans better pay up for transit or else they’re racist” line of argument will get us absolutely nowhere.

DannyX: The new penny sales tax, if passed, will probably be dedicated to a number of projects. I feel confident that Fulton and DeKalb voters (of which I am one) will get their fair share, even if the money goes to something other than MARTA itself.

Vote Dems Out

May 15th, 2010
10:14 am

MARTA? You mean that entity that has those buses driving around in north Metro Atlanta that are empty every time I see them? Oh yeah, and with regards to CJ, what’s a day without some mindless liberal bedwetting and saying “racism” where there is none. These idiots on the left have whored out that word so much it’s now essentially meaningless. I guess if I bring up that MARTA convention in Las Vegas several years ago that cost tens of thousands is being racist too. I guess if I bring up the incompetence of those buffoons running MARTA and brilliance like taking 20 YEARS to expand the rail line north to Windward Parkway is racist too. What a liberal tool.

joan1

May 15th, 2010
10:14 am

MARTA is probably just suffering from being run by Atlantans. This city isn’t known for the quality or honesty of its politicians. St. Louis got a transit system three times as large as MARTA up and running, successfully, within the last five years. Of course, it goes places people want to go, and aids commuters in getting to work on time, and is reliable, and well…just a lot of things MARTA is not and never has been. And then, of course, you have the problems of a lot of people being scared to ride MARTA at night due to the loud, obnoxious and dangerous kids that people it then.

DannyX

May 15th, 2010
10:21 am

“And then, of course, you have the problems of a lot of people being scared to ride MARTA at night due to the loud, obnoxious and dangerous kids that people it then.”

Right on cue. CJ nailed it.

Kyle Wingfield

May 15th, 2010
10:21 am

Scott: I have spent about 2.5 hours interviewing Dr. Scott over the past several months, and spent another couple of hours with other MARTA managers a couple of weeks ago, specifically for this series. I will be quoting some of them later in the series.

I have looked at Concept 3. You’re right — it would make for a world-class transit system. It would also cost something like $70 billion to build — at a minimum. To put that in perspective, MARTA’s existing infrastructure, built over the past three decades, is usually valued at about $6 billion. Further, $70 billion is about four times the entire state budget for the coming year.

Michael H. Smith

May 15th, 2010
10:22 am

What size are those GUB’MENT transportation dependency flip-flops you are wearing, Kyle? For a so-called conservative they sure look mighty big at the moment.

Vote Dems Out

May 15th, 2010
10:24 am

Leave it to a liberal like CJ to wh0re out the “racist” word as so typical of a liberal. They have denigrated that word and used it for every minute distraction of debate to where it’s now an essentially meaningless and stale word. Great job liberals!

But anyway, are we talking about the same MARTA that has empty buses driving around in the north metro Atlanta area every time I see them? Are we talking about the same MARTA that several years ago spent tens of thousands on a “convention” in Las Vegas? Are we talking about the same MARTA that will take 20 YEARS to expand the north rail line to Windward Parkway?

Meanwhile in other news…

“(Reuters) – The United States posted an $82.69 billion deficit in April, nearly four times the $20.91 billion shortfall registered in April 2009 and the largest on record for that month, the Treasury Department said on Wednesday.”

I guess the liberalism and socialism of Greece and the rest of Europe’s financial implosions aren’t good enough. There’s only so much a society can survive with out of control spending and expecting to just tax the “rich” to pay for it all – let alone a society of selfish me-first people who only want to work 30 hours a week and expect to get paid like a prince and use unions to get the pay. Europe has reached critical mass. We’re next under these blowhard lawyers from 1600 Pennsylvania to Capitol Hill running our nation currently. Is it November yet?

Vote Dems Out

May 15th, 2010
10:26 am

““And then, of course, you have the problems of a lot of people being scared to ride MARTA at night due to the loud, obnoxious and dangerous kids that people it then.”

I guess that means all those Georgia Tech college kids who get car jacked at night (and the handful who get shot every now and then) don’t need to be afraid of anything either, right DannyX? Those racists.

DannyX

May 15th, 2010
10:29 am

“I guess that means all those Georgia Tech college kids who get car jacked at night (and the handful who get shot every now and then) don’t need to be afraid of anything either, right DannyX? Those racists.”

Right on cue. CJ nailed it.

Michael H. Smith

May 15th, 2010
10:31 am

Repent Kyle, where is your faith in private sector capitalism?

Jess

May 15th, 2010
10:31 am

Politics have dominated the operation of MARTA from the very beginning, including the period when we had a “welfare” chairperson. This is the same thing which nearly shut down Grady hospital.When and if someone with the brains and knowhow is given a free hand to run MARTA we may see a turnaround. Until then we can count on this organization acting like so many of the people in this dependancy addicted country. They will wring their hands and hope someone saves them. In their minds, if they want things to improve, they will just have to shout and complain louder than other government organizations.

Michael H. Smith

May 15th, 2010
10:41 am

Oh ye of little faith when will you learn that government is addicted to creating government dependent addictions?

A statewide public private mass transit rapid rial system is the way to go.

DannyX

May 15th, 2010
11:05 am

I can make a company in the transportation business look just as bad as MARTA. Maybe worse. Delta Airlines.

Here is a company that spends more than it makes. It barely made it out of bankruptcy. Delta’s fares are too low, they keep losing money. They, like MARTA are trying to recover from horrible, past mismanagement. They have labor strife. A Delta cockpit crew forgot to land a plane full of passengers and flew past their destination! There have been drug raids at the airport involving their employees. Delta flight attendants got in a cat fight. They have very low ranked customer service, almost last. They have left jets full of passengers stranded on runways. They shut down in bad weather.

Of course the state of Georgia still showers Delta in tax breaks. Imagine that, “free market” Georgia propping up an “incompetent,” business. Of course Delta escapes all the negative images.

MARTA on the other hand is the brunt of the jokes. Anyone know what MARTA stands for?

Vote Dems Out

May 15th, 2010
11:13 am

“Right on cue. CJ nailed it.”

He Xboy: exactly what part of being afraid of CRIME do you not understand? Race has nothing to do with it, as stated. It’s you race baggers who bring race into everything. Law abiding citizens can’t select what race a person is who attacks him/her. Idiot.

Michael H. Smith

May 15th, 2010
11:33 am

So what Brucie X you can make a company in the transportation business look as bad as MARTA.

Government subsidizes these airlines. If government via the politics of dependency didn’t subsidize these airlines to the point of nationalization a good number of them would go out of the transportation business as rightly they should have done long ago. Then the remaining air transportation market would function profitably and competitively without government subsidies as they should.

GUB’MENT should not be in the business of competing with private sector businesses and picking the winners or losers in this regulated capitalist economy through the means and use of taxpayer subsidies.

Michael H. Smith

May 15th, 2010
12:00 pm

Furthermore, the only thing government should own and control or subsidies to a very small degree within the regulated capitalist economy of this country is “proprietary infrastructure”.

No More Progressives!

May 15th, 2010
12:20 pm

Michael H. Smith

May 14th, 2010
11:12 pm

Curious though if you would be willing to actually personally invest in the kind of system you say you want if that system were created as a private public corporate entity and not as another GUB’MENT owned system?

I can only wonder how many people “personally” invested in AMTRAK. Oh, that’s right; we all did, by virtue of confiscated taxes. An look what a venture AMTRAK turned out to be.

CJ

May 15th, 2010
12:50 pm

Kyle: “CJ: So were the Democrats who didn’t provide state funding to MARTA for the first 30 years of its existence also racist? Can we please engage on the substance of this issue?

Many, if not most, of today’s southern Republicans are yesterday’s southern Democrats.

And if you believe, Kyle, that the relationship between racism and decisions made about MARTA at the state level is not substantial, then I’m afraid that you have your blindfold on.

HB 277 is yet another demonstration of state lawmaker’s distaste for buses and trains full of black people. In their effort to undermine MARTA, they wrote the law such that one and only one local transit agency (out of more than 100) cannot use tax money raised under the legislation for current operations. Can you guess which transit agency that is?

Of course, state lawmakers already limit how MARTA can spend on current operations out of money otherwise available from taxes generated from Fulton and Dekalb counties. They were kind enough to suspend these restrictions for a couple of years, but they go back into place when the suspension is over. Governor Perdue’s spokesperson said that this suspension was a necessary compromise for “people in suburban counties concerned about how their tax dollars are spent and rural folks as well,”

People in suburban counties and rural folks. We hear you Governor. Loud and clear.

DannyX

May 15th, 2010
12:53 pm

Then there is the Georgia Department of Transportation. This has turned out to be the most incompetent of all our government agencies. Of course our suburban neighbors would never refuse to work with them. The amount of metro tax dollars that have been diverted to other parts of the state is staggering. Yet MARTA dominates any talk on transportation.

Same old dissection of MARTA looking for a scapegoat. Can’t wait for part 2.

DOT? A-OKAY!
Delta Airlines? Pump them up with tax breaks
MARTA? Attack and destroy

I say we stop the slow death. Kill MARTA and get it over with. DeKalb and Fulton should rescind the one penny sales tax. DeKalb and Fulton can then fund a small bus service with their share of the regional sales tax. Some of the stations are sitting on expensive pieces of property, selling them off could help fund the new system. Buses around the Beltline. The Arts Center Station could house the new symphony hall.

Kill the MARTA tax.