Category: Transportation

Governor Announces BRT Funding for SR 400

On June 19, 2018, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal announced $100 million in General Obligation bonds for Bus Rapid Transit infrastructure, part of the SR 400 Express Lanes project. The plan includes four BRT interchanges as part of a $1.8 billion project for express toll lanes up the highway. The Georgia Public Policy Foundation has long promoted BRT as a cost-effective alternative to rail. In the Foundation’s Agenda 2002: Guide to the Issues, for example, the Transportation section noted: Traditional train-type transit can be very effective in the downtown ares of certain cities. London, Paris, Tokyo and New York City fit this description. In these densely pupulated cities, rail-based transit provides a high-capacity, convenient transit solution that makes… View Article
By Dave Emanuel As the hue and cry for expanded public transit in metro Atlanta reaches a crescendo, many options are being discussed, but chatter about extending heavy rail predominates. You have to wonder why. The only thing lacking in the proposals to expand heavy rail is a specification to use steam locomotives. Add that, and you have the perfect 19th-century solution to a 21st-century problem. An outmoded form of transportation at best, heavy rail (defined as rail service elevated, subterranean or otherwise separated from street traffic) is expensive to build, operate and maintain, and inefficient in its use of resources. Consider that a single MARTA passenger car weighs 89,000 pounds and accommodates 64 passengers. Consider, further, that the typical… View Article
By Daniel Sperling and Steven Polzin This commentary is based on, “Three Revolutions: Steering Automated, Shared, and Electric Vehicles to a Better Future,” by Daniel Sperling, published February 2018 (Island Press) Bad news for transit keeps rolling in. Transit ridership declined in 34 of the 40 largest metropolitan areas over the past three years. New York’s subway woes continue, Washington Metro struggles with funding and maintenance and, even in Los Angeles with its massive rail system buildout supported by $120 billion in tax increases over 40 years, ridership is declining. Explanations for declining ridership include low gasoline prices, economic growth, increasing car ownership, immigrants’ fear of using transit, homeless loitering, and safety and security concerns.  While ridership routinely… View Article

Time is On Our Side in Transforming Georgia Transit

By Baruch Feigenbaum The Georgia General Assembly deserves praise for working to improve transit in Georgia. Two bills, one in the House and one in the Senate, focus on the funding and structure of Georgia’s transit systems. Both bills would create a regional board to oversee transit in 13 metro Atlanta counties, allowing the counties to impose sales taxes for transit projects if approved by voters. The regional board would approve the project lists for any county transit referendum but the taxes could only be spent in the county in which they are raised. Metro Atlanta commuters often live and work in different communities, making an oversight board critical. Many regions, including Denver and Washington D.C., have boards that help… View Article

Move Transit Policy in the Right Direction

By Benita M. Dodd When the CEO of the Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority resigned last year, he left MARTA in a good place. The agency was in the black. A new 40-year, $2.5 billion transportation sales tax had been passed. Clayton County bus service had been added to the system. Big plans were in the works with the new money: Expand the struggling Streetcar system. Expand heavy rail into Clayton County. Expand rail in the Emory corridor. Expand heavy rail along Georgia 400 to Alpharetta. Add bus rapid transit. Add buses. With the money part in place, now comes the heavy lifting. Keith Parker has moved on, and before the dream became reality. Legislation currently under consideration is intended… View Article
Metro magazine takes a comprehensive look at the game-changing ride-hailing and ride-sharing services, including Lyft and Uber, that are meeting the needs of commuters and reducing operating costs for public transportation. The article by Michaela Kwoka-Coleman, “Mobility-On-Demand: The Future of Transportation,” was posted on December 26, 2017, and can be accessed online here. It examines examples around the nation of how transit agencies are partnering with on-demand services, for first-mile/last-mile transportation, paratransit and carpools.  Public transportation ridership rates have been decreasing for years, and unless transit agencies adapt their service to embrace this innovation, they will lose even more riders. The University of California, Davis Institute of Transportation Studies reported in October that urban ride-hailing passengers decreased… View Article

Don’t Miss the Bus on Transit

By Benita M. Dodd Most of the large-scale development in Atlanta in recent years has been near transit stations, The Atlanta Business Chronicle reports. According to the narrative, corporations are being motivated to move close to MARTA stations because millennial employees prefer staying off the highways and living closer to their jobs.   Interestingly, none of these moves have resulted in improved MARTA ridership. Unlinked rail passenger trips dropped 1.16 percent in the first half of 2017 over the same period in 2016, while bus ridership dropped 3.31 percent. (An unlinked passenger trip is a trip on one transit vehicle; each transfer is counted as a separate “trip.”) This decline is not temporary. It’s a national trend, a result of lower… View Article

New Report Lauds Transit Contracting

By Baruch Feigenbaum In late September, the Eno Center for Transportation released “A Bid for Better Transit,” a report focused on improving transit service via contracted operations. I recommend reading this well-written report, which provides a snapshot of contracting throughout the world. U.S. transit service has long been among the worst in the developed world. One of the biggest differences between U.S. and European agencies is the prevalence of contracting for services. In Europe contracting out is a normal procedure. But in this country, contracting is bitterly fought by unions, urban Democrats and some transit rider groups as inherently inferior to directly operated service. The Eno report starts by providing a history of U.S. transit operations. It reminds… View Article

Commonsense Recommendations for SPLOST Reform in Georgia

By Ron Sifen and Benita M. Dodd Georgia’s Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) is an optional 1 percent county sales tax used to fund local capital projects for a county and participating municipalities. Thirty-two years after lawmakers passed the SPLOST law, lessons learned prove the SPLOST is sorely in need of some updates. Implemented in just 12 counties in the first year it was established (1985) and 15 more the next year, today the tax is imposed in all counties except DeKalb, Fulton and Muscogee, according to the state Department of Revenue. (DeKalb and Fulton have a MARTA tax; all three have an education SPLOST). The tax, which can last up to six years, is routinely renewed;… View Article

Transit Needs a Ticket to Transparency

By Benita M. Dodd In March 2017, the Georgia House of Representatives voted to establish a Georgia House Commission on Transit Governance and Funding that sunsets by December 2019. The resolution cites the need to study developing a “unified regional governance structure;” “creating efficiency and coordination among providers;” “regional, integrated and comprehensive mass transportation,” and, “an analysis of potential methods of funding.” The commission is charged with undertaking “a study of the conditions, needs, issues and problems mentioned above or related thereto and recommend any action or legislation.” The commission met in June and August 2. Two meetings in, it seems the only problem is funding. The state’s alphabet soup of transportation agencies shared their progress and plans for… View Article

“I am here today to thank the Georgia Public Policy Foundation for your role in building a fiscally conservative, pro-growth state. Not only did you help pave the way for a new generation of leadership, you continue to provide key policy advice and to hold us accountable to the principles we ran on. In short, you have had a transforming influence on this state. We are healthier, stronger, and better managed because of your efforts.

State Senator Eric Johnson, President pro tempore, Georgia State Senate more quotes