T-SPLOST transit projects don’t address real problems of congestion — or even of MARTA

The chief argument for approving the T-SPLOST in a referendum this year boils down to this: If it fails, what kind of signal will that send to businesses wary of Atlanta’s notorious traffic congestion?

Instead of worrying about a negative message for a couple of years — until Plan B emerged, as it inevitably would — voters ought to be more concerned by what it will mean for the next couple of decades if we spend billions of dollars on projects that don’t improve matters much.

It’s true that some worthy projects would receive funding from the 1 percent sales tax lawmakers are putting to a public vote. To wit: Improved interchanges of major interstates, such as the top end of I-285 with I-85 and Ga. 400, should ease bottlenecks that now back up rush-hour commuters for miles.

But the list is too compromised by other big-ticket items that will tie up tax dollars for far more than 10 years without lessening traffic. Transit projects, which consume more than half of the $6.14 billion expected to be available for regional projects, are the prime suspects.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I am not opposed to transit per se. But let’s review the T-SPLOST list’s obvious flaws by looking at the effects it would — and wouldn’t — have on MARTA.

MARTA is down for $540 million from T-SPLOST for repairs and upgrades to existing infrastructure. This backlog exists even though half of the agency’s sales tax revenue is reserved for capital improvements and maintenance.

In other words, the agency can’t keep up with its maintenance and capital needs now. Yet, a proposed answer is to drop the restriction and allow MARTA to divert maintenance money to subsidize operations. Passenger fares yield a fraction of what it costs to run trains and buses.

Stick with me here: I promise to tie all this together.

A big reason MARTA’s farebox recovery is so low is that its trains and buses too often aren’t full. Having too few passengers forces the agency to cut frequency to make trains and buses more full and thus cost-efficient.

Cutting frequency, however, means fewer people choose to ride MARTA if they have other options. Which leads to fewer passengers, which leads to less fare revenue, which makes MARTA even less able to sustain itself.

The obvious answer is to draw more people into the network, but MARTA’s reach is limited geographically. So, logically, the T-SPLOST list should expand that footprint.

It doesn’t.

Two major transit projects on the list are the Beltline and the Clifton Corridor line. Each exists within MARTA’s current footprint. A third is the line that extends northwest from MARTA’s current rail lines to Cumberland Mall. That’s an expansion of sorts, but the line would still be miles and miles — and more than $1 billion — from reaching the parts of Cobb County where traffic is worst.

Together, these projects consume a third of the money for regional projects while bringing a relatively small number of people just a couple of miles closer to a MARTA station. The real traffic woes lie tens of miles from MARTA’s furthest outposts.

Here’s the kicker: Ending the restriction on MARTA’s sales-tax revenues is being offered in exchange for putting the agency under a regional authority. This new entity wouldn’t actually run MARTA, the Cobb or Gwinnett transit agencies, or any others. Instead, its chief purpose would be to give metro Atlanta a single voice when seeking federal funding for transit.

Why is this important? Because regional leaders think federal funds will be necessary to extend transit out into the suburbs. Why? Because T-SPLOST money is being spent on projects that don’t extend transit to the suburbs!

You can ride a long time in the ruts of this circular logic without getting anywhere. Surely, the commuters who sit in traffic, while T-SPLOST doesn’t address their problems, will do just that.

Two Cobb leaders have asked the Legislature to reopen the region’s T-SPLOST list to move money away from the Cumberland line and toward new reversible lanes on I-75. Some key legislators are hesitant to do anything that could prevent a vote on the tax this year.

My advice? Worry less about getting this done soon and more about getting it right.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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135 comments Add your comment

Karl Marx

February 2nd, 2012
6:14 am

That right TSPLOST does little to really address gridlock but it does put lots of money toward the Beltline. Just vote NO on this government welfare project.

Edward

February 2nd, 2012
6:31 am

The know-nothings in the legislature want MARTA and the City of Atlanta to fail. It is part of their decades-long agenda called “the cut off our nose to spite our face” initiative. Of course, it doesn’t help having the corruption and cronyism that plague both MARTA and the City of Atlanta. It makes for a completely distopian setup. I don’t foresee any improvement in our lifetimes.

DeborahinAthens

February 2nd, 2012
6:34 am

OMG! You and I agree on something! I cannot believe you said money should be given to expand Marta’s footprint. You are the only Republican in the state to think rationally about our traffic problems. For fourteen years I drove from Gwinnett county into Buckhead. The drive eventually morphed into a four hour chunk of time taken from my day. I went to every meeting that was held trying to get rapid transit in Gwinnett. Then narrow minded twits didn’t want to do it because it would bring in the “wrong element” and the taxes would go up. These were the same arguments that we heard in the fifties and sixties when my father (who drove from Dacula to Lockheed in Marietta!!) would say the same thing. Meanwhile NYC, Boston, and Chicago built first rate rapid transit systems. I’ve used them all throughout the years. To my knowledge all of these transit systems are subsidized by their respective governments. In early 2001, I couldn’t take sitting in traffic and I got a job in Athens and moved here. I am less than five minutes from my workplace. My husband is even closer. He fills up his car with gas once a month. If any company is considering Atlanta as a location, they have to look at the horrible traffic and, if they have any sense, will move that business somewhere else. By the way the crap about people not using Marta is bogus. When I worked in Atlanta, I took Marta to all my appointments downtown. I would gladly have taken Marta from Gwinnett to Buckhead. It would have been a thirty minute ride. Oh, and by the way, the “bad element” got to Gwinnett anyway…it is the gang capital of the south…go figure. I guess they know how to drive.

Churchill's MOM.....Ron Paul for President

February 2nd, 2012
6:38 am

I have decided that Reed may be more corrupt than Bill Cambell. Look at his management of the airport bidding. Now the beltline will be a total payoff to Reed’s buddies. How can anyone trust the current management of MARTA to manage anything? I’ll be voting NO for this rip off.

Ayn Rant

February 2nd, 2012
7:31 am

What you cite is not “circular logic”; it’s just the constraints of funding. A 1% increase in sales tax will not solve Atlanta’s traffic problems. Trillions, not billions, of dollars in infrastructure are needed to make a proper city of the uncoordinated mess of counties and municipalities that constitute metropolitan Atlanta.

Atlanta is a politically splintered city of more than 5 million population, surrounded by a poor, backward, and neglectful state. If the state government would give back what it takes from the Atlanta area, we would have the revenue needed to expand MARTA, support commuter rail, and meter the freeway on-ramps to keep traffic moving during rush hour.

Chris

February 2nd, 2012
7:47 am

Re-opening the project list at this late date is a non-starter. The whole thing would fall apart as counties squabble over pet projects.

Tim Lee is more worried about his own hide than doing anything useful for Cobb County. Most of the projects in that county were chosen by cronies and insiders who would get to leech off the taxpayers dime. The end result will be no improvements in road congestion.

Jimmy the Cricket

February 2nd, 2012
8:00 am

I agree… IT’S NOT REGIONAL AND SCOPE… Shoot it down and forced the ill-advised team of pacifers (21 member transportation board) to come up with a REGIONAL RAIL solution.

Prisca

February 2nd, 2012
8:27 am

We in DeKalb and Fulton county have paid the 1-cent tax for 30+ years without complaining–too much. Most of us actually take pride in having a viable transit system. We really expected it to grow and get the support it needs from the rest of the state. But, in spite of MARTA, my neighborhood is completely “trafficked in.” I park on side streets sometimes because I can’t get into or out of my driveway on Briarcliff Road, and not just at rush hour either.

So please don’t tell me that the main congestion is at the interchanges in Cobb County, and that reversible lanes on the interstates would solve metropolitan congestion problems.

If we see this as a regional problem with a regional solution, we can all benefit.

I’m so ready to vote for TSPLOST.

Road Scholar

February 2nd, 2012
8:28 am

“Two major transit projects on the list are the Beltline and the Clifton Corridor line. Each exists within MARTA’s current footprint.”

Previously people have said that MARTA does not go to any large development beyond the trunk lines that exist today. Then, by defining distribution/collection rail corridors like Emory and the Beltline, you say it still doesn’t go anywhere. Have you ever looked at a map of successful rail lines and seen how they make access easier to collect passengers they need to be successful?

Washington DC’s Metro looks like someone spilled a bowl of spagetti with the lines crossing others to provide better access. Our linear system does not do that.

And when , pray tell, do we start to provide access to the suburbs, which the Cumberland line starts to do? Do you expect a whole system to drop from the sky and be totally functional for all of Atlanta…for free? At least this is a beginning. One of the important questions not being asked is when does Fulton and Dekalb stop paying there 1% for MARTA, or when does the rest of the region start paying it if that is what is needed to make transit successful.We cannot build ourselves out of congestion with roads alone.

BW

February 2nd, 2012
8:34 am

Unfortunately that’s been the issue from the start: our leaders don’t want to present the full scale of the problem to us like adults. At this point it’s going to take far more than $6 billion to upgrade the infrastructure to handle the existing population let alone plan for future population. Developers and cities were far too callous in building out in the burbs during the boom times resulting in inadequate arterial roads that would allow people making local trips to not use the interstate. According to the Atlanta Regional Commission, a full build-out of their 2040 regional transportation plan requires $61 billion!! We are bickering over a tenth of that amount without resolving any actual problem. Our leaders need to first do a better job of defining the scope of the solutions and stress that it is not an overnight fix. Second, we need to stop fighting the same war over transit vs roads. If you live in Acworth, then roads are going to be your primary concern. If you live on Howell Mill Rd you might wonder why there are no rapid transit options nearby. The ARC regional plan addresses both with the understanding that both are needed to improve the flow of traffic. I just don’t know if the legislators at the Gold Dome truly understand or even care about this problem as we continue to see legislation like silencers for hunting. I just hope that Georgia doesn’t lose because no one really wants to address the REAL issues that allow the prosperity in metro Atlanta that subsidizes the rest of the state.

DagnyT

February 2nd, 2012
8:39 am

I’m still waiting to hear how a new tower and runway at a general aviation airport in Kennesaw is going to improve commuter traffic anywhere. Why in the world is that on the list?

St Simons - codewords are the new black

February 2nd, 2012
8:41 am

“soon vs right”? well, that’s two mules who are already out o the barn

notorious traffic congestion? that’s being too kind. I sat in on several
of those “where should we put our business/plant” meetings, and
even back then, you should’ve seen the eye-rolls when someone
mentioned Atlanta, or even the perimeter.

But if I hadn’t got tired of it, I wouldn’t be here. Never mind..carry on

fred garvey

February 2nd, 2012
8:46 am

its to late! as a lifelong atlantan i offer a few observations,the interstates are gridlocked because short sighted neighborhood activists who have now all passed are left town killed I-485 and the GA 400 extension to I-675 along with the eastern half of the lakewood freeway to the 400 extension near I-675 40 years ago.the then state highway dept(now GDOT) had studies that predicted what traffic would be like in the 21st century but they wanted to preserve some houses in decatur and east atlanta that you can”t even get to now because of the gridlock from traffic coming off the stub of the stone mountain freeway and jamming up scott blvd,ponce de leon and north decatur rd.and the area around emory,.the 400 ext to I 675 would have been an east side bypass for thru traffic to advoid the downtown connector and take some of the pressure off of I-285,all that allowed to be built was the now freedom parkway(to nowhere)look at the map of atlanta interstate system these are the missing spokes of the wheel.combine this with failure to have real commuter trains,mismanagement of marta,which in the 1970s had a bus system way more efficient than the feeder to rail system now.and the stupid streetcar to nowhere they are building which is useless for commuters f so many millions are gonna ride it? how come marta never had a dedicated shuttle bus on this route.)and asking every one to subsidize the pie in the sky beltline that only benifits the connected few> this is why the the tax will fail and traffic will only get worse..just my 2 cents.

Out by the Pond

February 2nd, 2012
9:18 am

I said it before and I will say it again…..A 1% sales tax is no way to finance out way out of this mess. We must elect leaders with back bone who are not scared to raise taxes to pay for necessary improvements.

DannyX

February 2nd, 2012
9:20 am

Those poor mistreated citizens in Cobb and Gwinnett are truly suffering. They used up all their land for tacky houses and strip malls. They hate taxes, they really hate taxes. They hate their ridiculous traffic too.

As a long time resident of DeKalb County I really feel sorry for them. I hear them shout “Why me!!!” and it breaks my heart. I want to pay the 1 cent MARTA tax and I think DeKalb and Fulton should give their share of the T-SPLOST tax to poor old Cobb and Gwinnett! They are truly suffering. Lets do the right thing, they hate taxes, they need our help. Lets pick up the tab to bail them out of their unfortunate jam.

Just say YES Fulton and DeKalb. Yes to the Cobb and Gwinnett bailout. Show them our money. Vote yes on the Suburban I Hate Taxes Bailout Transportation Tax. Do it for their children.

Dumb and Dumber

February 2nd, 2012
9:30 am

That’s it Fred, we can build our way out of gridlock. All we have to do is spend millions on buying out homes that are actually close to job centers, destroy neighborhoods that have sidewalks where people can actually walk to their destination…all so people who want to live 40 miles from their job can have an easier commute.

Pave here, pave now.

Kyle likes to criticize transit projects (and he is actually almost right in this context)but he clearly does not ride on the same MARTA line that I do — every morning and evening the East line is packed with riders — granted, they are not the white republicans that Kyle would feel comfortable mixing with … but they are still carbon-based bi-pedals.

What Kyle doesn’t crticize is the road projects that are clearly designed to appeal to a narrow suburban interest and which do little to increase connectivity.

I certainly oppose the T-SPLOST — but I do so because the project list (both road and transit) look like it was created by a Congressional Committee that specializes in earmarks. Millions for the beltline but not a dime to create the hub for a regional bus/commuter rail line?

Its time local politicians, state legislators, editorial writers and the mostly ignorant public (including yours truly) got out of the way and we actually create a transportation authority that is not designed to serve the narrow interests of the burbs or the city.

Never gonna happen, but its way past time.

Vote no on this turkey and, Fred, enjoy your car. Get some books on tape or something to improve your mind. When you chose to live far from your job, you signed up for a long commute. Deal with it.

Intown

February 2nd, 2012
9:41 am

Kyle: I think you wrongly assume that a mere transit project or two can fix the top end of the perimeter. The problem with the top end of the Perimeter is more fundamental than that. The point of pushing mass transit is in part to ease existing traffic congestion but more so to change development patterns into something more sustainable. Just like if you expand a road, more people will simply come and fill it with additional cars, if you change development patterns to hug transit corridors, you’ll start getting people out of their cars and onto sidewalks, bicycles, and mass transit. Of course, this too runs directly counter to your conservadox thinking so I’m not sure there is really any pleasing a conservative columnist with T-SPLOST.

Kyle Wingfield

February 2nd, 2012
9:44 am

Road: I’ve been on a lot of subway systems in a lot of cities. And, yes, they often have more than trunk lines. (They also tend to have more people living more densely within the city proper, but that’s a debate for another day.) But it seems to me that the chief problem for MARTA — and for traffic congestion more broadly — is not that there’s too little connectivity within the Atlanta city limits, but that there’s pretty much zero connectivity where the other 90% of the region’s population lives.

I’ve written before, and will reiterate today, that the more sensible approach would be to push for commuter rail on existing rail lines to the northwest (Cobb), northeast (Gwinnett) and south (Clayton). That would feed a lot more people into the existing system, allowing it to become a better option for more potential riders already within its range and thus more viable, and then focus on further connectivity within the city. Spend the T-SPLOST money retrofitting/expanding the lines to do that in a way that doesn’t interfere with freight traffic. It ought to cost a lot less than the $2 billion allocated to the three biggest transit items on the current list — and a heckuva lot less than the $4.5 billion or so it will take to extend light rail eventually to Acworth and the Gwinnett arena.

If Cobb (or any other jurisdiction) then wants to pursue light rail for development purposes, let the folks there go for it. (And development is what that project is all about: No commuter is going to ride a train from Acworth or Kennesaw to Atlanta that stops every quarter- to half-mile … and if it doesn’t stop that often, there’s no point in ripping up road to build it in that corridor. Another example of the circular logic on display here.)

At that point, I’d be a lot more interested in a MARTA connection from Cumberland-Perimeter-Doraville than the Clifton Corridor. The Beltline has its own funding mechanism, which is reason enough for it not to be included in the T-SPLOST list.

For the record: Because I live intown, I personally would be more apt to use the Beltline or Clifton Corridor than any of the alternatives I’ve just described. But if the purpose is to relieve regional traffic congestion, with all the knock-on economic benefits that would bring, then I think it’s a no-brainer which types of plans achieve that purpose most quickly and cost-efficiently.

Intown

February 2nd, 2012
9:44 am

Wouldn’t MARTA be running the BeltLine transit and the Clifton Corridor? They will be running the streetcar.

Intown

February 2nd, 2012
9:46 am

Ok. Now I see where you’re coming from.

UGA 1999

February 2nd, 2012
9:47 am

The transportation in Atlanta is broken. From the roads to MARTA there needs to be a complete overhaul but that is too expensive and time consuming.

Kyle Wingfield

February 2nd, 2012
9:49 am

Intown: First, see what I posted at 9:44.

Second, thank you for admitting that the real goal here is essentially to force people to live differently than the vast, vast majority of them in this region have chosen to live over the past few decades. But I don’t think it will work. After all, if transit corridors attract development and residential growth, then why hasn’t that happened along the existing MARTA lines? Why haven’t the businesses that say transit is oh-so important for them chosen to locate along those lines?

Grasshopper

February 2nd, 2012
9:49 am

fred garvey is correct (although hard to decipher!)

Overlay a map of metro Atlanta with almost any city in the country and the problem is obvious; there has been zero planning involved in the development of this city from it’s inception. The arterial road system is based on Indian trails and cow paths – you truly cannot take a direct route from anywhere to anywhere. The interstate system slices through and connects awkwardly. Marta is a poor imitation of a well connected transit system.

What is the answer? I don’t know but I fear that this T-Splost is not it.

ATLBadger

February 2nd, 2012
9:53 am

I’m becoming more and more convinced that due to tremendously fractured metro area governments, incompetent leadership (at all levels), historical planning mistakes, the selfish attitude of many residents (who don’t want to pay for anything that they won’t directly use), prejudice, partisan politics, the disdain for Atlanta by non-metro Atlanta residents, etc., etc., we will never be able to solve the problem.

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

February 2nd, 2012
9:54 am

MARTA is a huge failure and now we’re asked to sign on to a huge tax increase to double down on that.

The only sane vote is “no”.

Jefferson

February 2nd, 2012
10:04 am

Atlanta need transit, it will cost big money, the best use of taxes is to pay for needs.

ATLBadger

February 2nd, 2012
10:07 am

Kyle wrote: “After all, if transit corridors attract development and residential growth, then why hasn’t that happened along the existing MARTA lines? Why haven’t the businesses that say transit is oh-so important for them chosen to locate along those lines?”

Kyle – It has happened and to suggest otherwise is disingenuous. Look at the tremendous growth (both in commercial and dense residential properties) in the Midtown, Buckhead, Perimeter, and Lindbergh areas since the inception of MARTA. Look at the residential and commercial revitalization of neighborhoods like Inman Park, and downtown Decatur. Yes, some of that would have taken place without MARTA, but certainly MARTA has been one of the drivers. I think Lindbergh is a great example of this in very recent years.

MARTA isn’t perfect, but you can’t deny that it has indeed directly impacted the urban development of Atlanta.

DannyX

February 2nd, 2012
10:12 am

I think Lil’ Barry is right. Whose stupid idea was the whole T-SLOST disaster anyway?

Oh yeah, it was the Republicans, that figures…

The Republicans not wanting to go against their own “no new taxes” rule cowardly punted this to the voters.

Then they stacked the project list committee with local suburban Republican leaders.

Then the suburban Republican dominated committee decided what transportation projects would be paid for with the new tax.

Now we have suburban Republican leaders trying to get the cowardly Republican state legislature to change the project list because they didn’t like what the suburban Republican committee agreed to.

What a mess, as Lil’ Barry pointed out Republicans can’t do anything right.

Angus

February 2nd, 2012
10:17 am

1. The TSPLOST stinks to high heaven, but we may just have to bring our clothes pins to the booth and vote for it.

2. The transit governing legislation currently being considered could be the final nail in the coffin for the TSPLOST – the TSPLOST must get significant support from Fulton and Dekalb to pass.

3. As long as raising the motor fuel tax remains a non-starter, you can forget about any significant improvements in metro traffic. The TSPLOST alone is a drop in the bucket of our needs.

Do what??????

February 2nd, 2012
10:23 am

“You are the only Republican in the state to think rationally about our traffic problems.

Every major city has traffic problems. The biggest, BIGGEST problem in Atlanta is poor city planning. If Atlanta was built on a grid system like Chicago or NYC then a rail system would work.

Do what??????

February 2nd, 2012
10:24 am

“they are not the white republicans”

Why is it that only black people, mostly Democrats, play the race card when there is NOTHING about race within an article?

ragnar danneskjold

February 2nd, 2012
10:42 am

I will always vote against transportation T-SPLOSTs because of the false assumption that is predicate for the essay: “If it fails, what kind of signal will that send to businesses wary of Atlanta’s notorious traffic congestion?”

If great mass transit was even a minimal factor for private enterprise, the high growth areas would be New York City, Chicago, Boston, and Washington DC, all of which have negative growth in private enterprise (we acknowledge the DC bureaucrat boom under Chauncey.) Rather than locate in New York, Illinois, or Massachusetts, however, the growth is in cities with the lousiest public transportation: Dallas, Houston, Miami, Tampa Bay, Nashville, Charlotte, Atlanta. All but the final two have no state income tax to repel businesses.

The message that private enterprise would perceive from a rejection of T-SPLOST would be, “hey, these people are serious about keeping taxes down.”

ByteMe

February 2nd, 2012
10:42 am

Kyle: You and I agree completely. Kill T-SPLOST now. Come back with a plan that merges MARTA with other regional transit agencies and fund it with a 1% PERMANENT sales tax and use it to expand the footprint of all rapid transit (including park-and-drive commuter buses) throughout the region in a coordinated effort that works across county lines. Then come back with a 5-year T-SPLOST for road-based projects within the region.

For those watching from home who are saying “why a permanent tax?” it’s because you can’t get bonds issued to fund a transportation project unless there’s a reliable source of funding to pay off the bonds. You can’t start building without the cash up-front to pay for the project, so you need a bond issue to get that cash (and then pay it off with the tax or toll revenue). So to do what we need done, we need to show the will to tax ourselves indefinitely to pay for bond issues that will fund it. We can always sunset the tax if we can afford it after the bonds are paid off, but considering the growth in the region, we’ll likely need it forever as we expand rail footprints to all corners of the region.

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

February 2nd, 2012
10:47 am

DannyX: I think Lil’ Barry is right. Whose stupid idea was the whole T-SLOST disaster anyway? Oh yeah, it was the Republicans, that figures…
———-

Remember this day whenever you’re tempted to drag out that lame-azz “where were you Republicans when the GOP did thus-and-such” argument.

MiltonMan

February 2nd, 2012
10:47 am

No vote for me. $100 million for the Clayton County Bus System that has already proven that it is not economical feasible, forcing Fulton/DeKalb county residents to continue to pay a penny tax to support MARTA, politicians extending the life of the 400 toll (big fat lie on a promise made to residents), etc., etc.

TBone

February 2nd, 2012
11:04 am

Hey who cares if it solves a problem or not, it’s the government stupid and if the government wants to grow and grow and grow, we can all stand back and feed the beast. This project is intended to create a larger role of the government; to hell with y’all.

ATLBadger

February 2nd, 2012
11:07 am

“If great mass transit was even a minimal factor for private enterprise, the high growth areas would be New York City, Chicago, Boston, and Washington DC, all of which have negative growth in private enterprise (we acknowledge the DC bureaucrat boom under Chauncey.) Rather than locate in New York, Illinois, or Massachusetts, however, the growth is in cities with the lousiest public transportation: Dallas, Houston, Miami, Tampa Bay, Nashville, Charlotte, Atlanta. All but the final two have no state income tax to repel businesses.”

Aside from the TX cities, you could also make a pretty reasonable argument that Boston, NYC, San Fran, and DC have all performed better through the recession than ATL and some other Sun Belt cities. Also, Dallas now has 72 miles of light rail (DART) and is building and planning more.

Intown

February 2nd, 2012
11:08 am

Kyle:

Growth has occured along MARTA corridors. See Lindbergh station, Lenox/Buckhead stations, Peachtree Center, etc. MARTA stops in existing residential neighborhoods has also helped keep up their prop values. See Inman Park station, Candler Park, etc. They’ve also increased convenience to downtown for suburban communters. Check out the parking lots at the ends of the lines extending into northern and eastern suburbs on a weekday. MARTA has a few problems though. For historic/political reasons it doesn’t go out far enough. and intown, it isn’t pedestrian user friendly becuase theire aren’t enough stops and the heavy-rail nature of it is rather imposing to a pedestrian. That’s why a light-rail and/or streetcar network would complement it well. You need to have a chat with Ryan Gravel.

Road Scholar

February 2nd, 2012
11:15 am

Kyle, I disagree that Marta needs less connectivity ITP, where the density is already dense, or will become more dense. The age old problem, mostly driven by neighborhoods , is that there are not multi- use developments at these stations. That is changing.

But one of the issues with using comuter rail is the distance between stops. In addition, the railroads want a third set of rails, esp on their main tracks, since freight traffic, and interstate passenger traffic is increasing. They do NOT want to share that third set of rails. Then you have the issue with the neighborhoods again that complain about the rail traffic/noise even though these neighbors bought a home next to an existing rail corridor.

Kyle Wingfield

February 2nd, 2012
11:18 am

ATLBadger @ 10:07: And yet, the percentage of commuters using transit hasn’t really changed in recent years: 4% in 2007, 5% in 2010. Carpool and teleworking — the latter of which might make the most sense in terms of using public policy to encourage alternatives to driving on the highways — were and remain two and a half times as popular.

I live very close to Lindbergh. If you don’t, I recommend you drive around there between, say, 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. — i.e., after the time when people would need to turn on their lights, but before many people would have gone to bed. Look at the apartments and notice how many of them don’t have any lights on inside. (Also look at how many have something on their porches vs. those that don’t.)

Maybe those apartments will fare better once the overbuilding of residential property is absorbed. (OTOH, you can’t ignore the fact that they were part of the overbuilding.) But that’s not the only example in that area. Around rush hour, if you ever have the spare time and are so inclined, sit and watch the entrance to those Post apartments on the other side of Lindbergh Drive, and notice how many people there are walking across the street to MARTA vs. the number of cars leaving the gate.

Might some more of those people use MARTA if it went more places? I’m sure many of them would. But enough to outnumber the suburbanites who have even more limited options now? I highly doubt it.

Kyle Wingfield

February 2nd, 2012
11:26 am

Road: I never said “less connectivity ITP.” What I’m talking about are priorities — what gets done first.

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

February 2nd, 2012
11:27 am

Hey who cares if it solves a problem or not
———-

The folks begging for the money don’t.

ATLBadger

February 2nd, 2012
11:40 am

Kyle – You’re above statement does nothing to prove your earlier statement of “After all, if transit corridors attract development and residential growth, then why hasn’t that happened along the existing MARTA lines? Why haven’t the businesses that say transit is oh-so important for them chosen to locate along those lines?”

So you don’t think that the Lindbergh MARTA station had anything to do with attracting that development? Yeah, Lindbergh has problems due to much of it being built right before the recession (therefore empty units), but I guarantee you that that MARTA station had a big impact on the decision making process of the developers. And I’m sure that if you polled the people who have moved into those units, MARTA nearby was probably a significant factor, even if they aren’t using it on a daily basis. I gave multiple other examples of significant changes to neighborhoods in the time since MARTA first opened a rail station.

BTW, I’m not arguing against suburban expansion of commuter rail. I think that’s very important. But to deny that MARTA has impacted development decisions in Atlanta is just silly.

I know this is just an opinion blog, but hard line statements like that don’t do accomplish anything.

GT

February 2nd, 2012
11:42 am

A vast majority of these people were not here decades ago. They move to Atlanta just like they would New York and do as the Romans do. Also most of the people here decades ago live close in and have good transportation, it is these new comers that have been stuck in the woods.

A few things need to be abundantly clear. First this doesn’t turn into an Atlanta Airport extortion skim or a Savannah harbor where political patronage it paid by given the jobs as barter. Second we can keep this mass construction job out of the pocket of crooks. Third you can clean up places like Cumberland that have a violent shooting about every quarter as it is, and will only get worse with the new system. I wouldn’t mind seeing Cumberland torn down and something more difficult to hang out put in its place. Can you imagine the cost of policing this new found Crimeworld?

yuzeyurbrane

February 2nd, 2012
11:47 am

Food for thought. There are some important projects but there is also a lot of pure pork. Also, there is a certain amount of socialism for the wealthy–why doesn’t Emory with its billions kick in a significant part of the Clifton Corridor project which will primarily benefit Emory?

ByteMe

February 2nd, 2012
11:52 am

Third you can clean up places like Cumberland that have a violent shooting about every quarter as it is, and will only get worse with the new system.</i.

How exactly does it get worse with the new system?

GT

February 2nd, 2012
12:13 pm

How did it get bad as it is now? Ask a Cobb County law enforcers how much trouble there has been since the Marta Bus line has nook down over the river to Cumberland. You can PR a lot of stuff but facts are facts, so how do you promote this without telling the truth?

ByteMe

February 2nd, 2012
12:16 pm

Ask a Cobb County law enforcers how much trouble there has been since the Marta Bus line has nook down over the river to Cumberland. You can PR a lot of stuff but facts are facts, so how do you promote this without telling the truth?

Facts are facts, but you haven’t done anything but tell us to go find anecdotal evidence of what you claim to be “facts”. Hard to believe anecdotes with no actual anecdotes… and no real facts.

GT

February 2nd, 2012
12:19 pm

ByteMe do as many Cobb County people go downtown as Atlanta people come to Cobb Cy?

shawny

February 2nd, 2012
12:23 pm

NO to T-SPLOST, or any other type of SPLOST for that matter. Make do with existing revenues and fit expenses into the budget appropriately.

If I spend too much, do you think I can just go to my employer and say I want another percent just because I spend too much or don’t budget appropriately?