James.qxp Sept Oct 2018 web (2) - Page 8

facilities and equipment on Ga. 400. MARTA will
operate the service.
In July, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary
Chao visited Forsyth County to announce an
$184 million federal grant for dedicated express lanes
on Ga. 400, which BRT will use.
In August, Gwinnett County approved a transit contract
MARTA and unanimously called for a March 2019
transit referendum. Once approved by voters, the penny
sales tax will generate $6 billion in local funds for rail
transit extensions, BRT, local and express bus, flex bus
service and paratransit.
Leaders in Cobb County are working toward asking their
to approve a penny sales tax, in 2019 or 2020,
to fund comprehensive transit services. The vote could
be countywide or limited to a special transit district.
Voters in north and south Fulton may soon have the
to approve a 0.2 cent sales tax to fund a wide
variety of transit services in its footprint.
ears from now, we’ll look back on
the 2010s era as a great inection
point in our transportation story:
the “transit decade.” With growing
popular support from voters and
elected officials, transit has gained
momentum never seen before in metro
Atlanta and Georgia. In particular, 2018
has been a stellar year for transit.
Current and future Georgians will
greatly benefit from the courageous, visionary leadership on transit by Gov. Nathan Deal, Lt. Gov. Casey
Cagle and House Speaker David Ralston. Together with
Rep. Kevin Tanner and Sen. Brandon Beach, chairs of
the transportation committees, Georgia passed sweeping, meaningful transit legislation this year in House
Bill 930. And local leaders like Gwinnett’s Charlotte
Nash are already putting that legislation to work for
their citizens. Kudos to all.
A key driver in the shift to embrace transit is the
recent wave of major economic development wins that
required transit access: State Farm, NCR, PulteGroup,
Mercedes-Benz, Kaiser-Permanente, Honeywell and
many others. Employers know the workers they seek
want commuting options besides sitting in traffic. As
our congestion has grown, so has the intense desire for
our residents to avoid it, especially millennials.

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus was right when he
decreed, “The only thing that is constant is change”—
and that’s clearly the case for transportation. Rideshare
companies Uber and Lyft are redening how we commute. Driverless electric vehicles will be here soon.
Feelings are still mixed about the eets of sharable escooters that have descended on Atlanta and other
Georgia cities almost overnight. Amidst all these disruptive changes, transit serves a vital role in this dynamic
matrix of transportation options since it allows users to
be productive, stream their favorite Netix series or just
chill during trips.
Over the last 30 years, transit ridership in the U.S. is
up, despite a decline in recent years. The recent dip
results from historically low gas prices and the substitution effect of Uber and Lyft, as some transit riders opt
for that choice on shorter trips. But in the long term,
rideshare companies will contribute to growing transit
ridership, not cannibalize it, by providing essential rstand last-mile connections.
In Georgia, we’re moving the needle in a big, positive way because of leaders who are willing to put their
reputations on the line for long-term policy solutions,
not short-term political gain. But these policies must
have popular support to sustain their current momentum. That means Georgians must let their elected leaders know they support the progress we’ve seen in 2018,
and advocate for more smart transportation solutions.
Dave Williams is the Vice President of Infrastructure & Government
Affairs for the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce.
We’re learning that we can’t pave our way out of
congestion. New capacity induces more demand, exacerbating the problem and compounding congestion. Our
transportation portfolio has grown severely unbalanced
in favor of single-occupancy vehicle trips. Investing in
different transportation options and choices will diversify it, and scalable transit investments are a smart bangfor-the-buck.
As evidence of Atlanta transit’s amazing reversal of
fortune, here’s a quick history of transit wins in just the
last few years:
In 2014, Clayton County voted decisively to join
approving a one-penny sales tax.
In 2016, City of Atlanta voters overwhelmingly
“More MARTA,” a half-penny sales tax,
which will generate $2.5 billion for transit expansion.
In March, Georgia’s legislature overwhelmingly passed
930 with bipartisan support, establishing regional
transit governance and funding opportunities for 13
metro Atlanta counties. In May, Deal signed the bill
into law, creating the ATL Authority.
In June, Deal and state leaders announced $100 mil lion
in state bonds for new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)


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