Category: Transportation

Transit Needs a Ticket to Transparency

At its second meeting August 2 at MARTA headquarters, the House Commission on Transit Governance and Funding heard from MARTA CEO Keith Parker. 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.… View Article
study by the Mineta Transportation Institute should make policymakers, lawmakers and taxpayers question why streetcar projects are being funded through transportation agencies and grants. The institute examined streetcars in Little Rock, Ark., Memphis, Tenn., Portland, Ore., Seattle, Wash., and Tampa, Fla. “[T]here does seem to be a real disconnect between enthusiasm for the streetcar and its transportation performance,” the authors found. “In most cities, streetcar ridership is very low and compares quite unfavorably with the ridership on a local bus route operating in the same general area. A strict transportation assessment would tend to regard a streetcar that had lower ridership than a typical bus route as a misuse of scarce transportation resources. “But few of the informants tended… View Article
Georgia is moving toward dynamic tolls and a network of express toll lanes in the metro Atlanta area. The I-85 high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes allow vehicles with three or more occupants to travel free; the I-75 express toll lanes have no high-occupancy mandates but on both, the tolls increase with as the level of congestion increases. Road pricing has its supporters and detractors. In its first fully digital edition, ACCESS Magazine carries an article by Brian D. Taylor on the opportunities in using road pricing to manage and reduce traffic congestion.  ACCESS covers research at the University of California Transportation Center and the University of California Center on Economic Competitiveness. The goal is to translate academic research into readable prose View Article
What promise do metro Atlanta’s express toll lanes hold for congestion relief, mobility, quality of life and affordability? In a nutshell: NewGeography.com describes the need for “affordable proximity” – enabling a growing regional population to live, work, shop and play without breaking the bank on housing or transportation costs. We need to acknowledge that in “decentralized, post-WW2 Sunbelt cities built around the car, commuter rail solutions don’t work and an alternative is needed, especially as we see autonomous vehicles on the horizon.” The solution lies in managed express lanes (MaX lanes), which leverage existing infrastructure, writes Tory Gattis of The Center for Opportunity Urbanism. He addresses this approach in his new report, “A Next-Generation Mobility Strategy for Affordable Proximity View Article
By Robert Krol Robert Krol President Trump and Congress seem poised to boost spending on highways, bridges, and mass transit. Yet if this increase in spending ends up being funneled through the existing transportation funding system, the results will be disappointing. Instead of increasing Washington’s influence over infrastructure spending, it makes more sense to leave most funding responsibilities with the states. That approach would result in better project selection and a superior transportation infrastructure. As things stand, Washington plays a significant role in highway funding. The 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act contains five formula-based surface transportation funding programs that will cost about $45 billion per year from 2016 to 2020. Although this and previous transportation funding bills have increased… View Article

AJC Publishes Op-Ed on Atlanta, MARTA TSPLOSTs

The Sunday edition of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on April 2, 2017, published an op-ed by Foundation Vice President Benita Dodd on the new transportation special purpose local option sales taxes for MARTA and Atlanta. Her op-ed is published in its entirety below; the AJC link is here: http://www.myajc.com/news/opinion/opinion-look-future-not-past-gain-most-from-atl-splost/5h0CTF5gG9cK2ppp2ZRL4O/. OPINION: Look to future, not past, to gain most from ATL T-SPLOST By Benita Dodd April marks the full implementation of two transportation special-purpose local option sales taxes (TSPLOSTs) overwhelmingly passed by Atlanta voters in November 2016. A 0.4-cent, five-year Atlanta TSPLOST to raise $300 million has joined the 0.5-cent, 40-year TSPLOST begun in March to raise $2.6 billion for MARTA projects. The massive support is no surprise, given lofty campaign promises… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd On Saturday, January 28, the reversible express toll lanes on I-75 south of Atlanta opened. The lanes’ direction was northbound, as signs on I-75 South showed. In a milestone event that occurred quietly on Saturday, January 28 Georgia entered the ranks of the few, the proud, the innovative states as a 12-mile stretch of reversible toll lanes opened on I-75 south of Atlanta. Just four other states boast reversible toll lanes. A little history: Georgia has known tolls since the 19th century (at least). Few metro commuters realize the toll origins of the roads they travel: Johnson Ferry and Paces Ferry (crossing the Chattahoochee) and Bell’s Ferry (crossing the Little River in Cherokee County), to name… View Article

New Year, Same Old Streetcar Named Disaster

By Benita M. Dodd Atlanta’s Streetcar System, three years later, still is nothing to brag about. Today the city of Atlanta begins Year 3 of operating its much-ballyhooed Atlanta Streetcar System, and so far, all that can be discerned is a lot of bally hooey. This month, the Atlanta City Council approved the final payment to URS for the design-build of the 2.7-mile Atlanta Streetcar project, making the total payment $61,630,655. That was, according to Public Works Commissioner Richard Mendoza, “$6 million less than URS originally submitted.” Not exactly. The 2014 URS contract authorized by MARTA (the transit authority designated to receive the $47.6 million federal grant for the Streetcar), was $59 million; the original URS contract, based on… View Article
The Sunday edition of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (October 30, 2016) contained an op-ed by Foundation Vice President Benita Dodd on the November 8 transportation sales tax votes in Atlanta, “Atlanta shouldn’t railroad themselves into old solutions.” The op-ed can be accessed online here and is reprinted in its entirety below. Atlanta shouldn’t railroad themselves into old solutions By Benita Dodd If there’s a bright side to November’s two transportation SPLOST votes in the city of Atlanta, it’s that they are confined to the city. The rest of Fulton County, having separated its transportation vote from the city, is largely embracing the future instead of romancing the past. Few understand the enormity of the MARTA transit tax hike for Atlanta. It… View Article

Guide to the Issues: Transportation

Principles: Traffic congestion, while inconvenient, is a sign of a thriving economy. Transportation policy must focus on improving mobility and relieving congestion. To the extent possible, users should pay. Use objective criteria when weighing transportation options. Recommendations: Embrace funding alternatives Plan for a future of transportation innovations Include Georgia’s research universities in solutions. Expand the metro Atlanta express toll lanes into a seamless network. Improve arterial mobility Adopt transit solutions that are flexible and adaptable Enhance alternative freight routes around Atlanta Develop last-mile solutions Facts: Between 1982 and 2014, according to the Texas Transportation Institute[1]: In the Atlanta urban area, which is home to about 60 percent of Georgia’s population, the population grew 105 percent but the commuter… View Article

I thank you for what you do. For 15 years you’ve been researching and writing on issues that matter. You take on tough questions, you apply innovative thinking, you push for action, and you do it all without regard to politics.

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