Category: Transportation

By Baruch Feigenbaum A recent study, “Access Across America: Transit 2017,” by Andrew Owen and Brendan Murphy of the University of Minnesota, claims that accessibility to jobs by transit increased between 2016 and 2017. The study, which has been conducted for the past three years, has found increasing accessibility to jobs each year. Given declining transit ridership across the country, the study’s results seem surprising. But a closer look at the methodology shows that “accessibility to jobs” has little connection with actual transit ridership. The study estimates accessibility to jobs by transit and walking for each of the United States’ 11 million census blocks in 49 of the 50 largest metro areas (Memphis is excluded due to a… View Article
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution of January 18, 2019, published an op-ed by Benita Dodd in response to MARTA CEO Jeffrey Parker’s proposal for a $100 billion “moonshot for transit.” The op-ed, “A successful MARTA’s future shouldn’t look like the past,” is accessible online on the newspaper’s website here and is published in full below.  Opinion: A successful MARTA’s future shouldn’t look like the past By Benita Dodd Forty-five years ago, Congress was told the Apollo program – landing a manned spacecraft on the moon – had cost the United States $25.4 billion. With inflation, that would be $143.7 billion in today’s dollars. Ten years ago, an updated NASA estimate put that cost at about $200 billion in 2005 dollars.… View Article

2018 Victories: Slow and Steady Wins the Race

By Kyle Wingfield As 2018 dashes away like Donner and Blitzen, many Georgians will remember it as a year of major political transition. But 2018 also brought some substantial improvements to Georgians’ lives through better policy, much of it championed by the Georgia Public Policy Foundation. The year began with a bit of a hangover from 2017: The tax reform that Congress passed late last year, though beneficial for your federal tax bill, threatened to raise your state taxes if unaddressed. Thankfully, legislators didn’t drop the ball. They set in motion a series of changes that will shield more of Georgians’ income from the state income tax and, for the first time in our state’s history, lower the top marginal… View Article

Transit’s New Technologies Leaving Planners Behind

By Eric J. Tanenblatt  When it comes to transportation in Atlanta, there are two things on which everyone can agree: Our cash-strapped transit grid is bad, and our traffic is worse.  Here, where one need only cast their gaze skyward to the swoop of cranes fashioning a towering, new skyline of glimmering glass and steel to understand the sea of red that drowns our highways each night, it’s plainly clear that growing pains are at hand – and, with them, worsening road congestion.  Our sprawling city is in desperate need of expanded public transportation. And it’s critical that it be equitable and accessible, because Atlanta will only truly be connected and vibrant when its mass transit system has equal buy-in… View Article

Bus Rapid Transit: Burden Reduced on Taxpayers

By Dave Emanuel Relatively few people use public transit but everyone pays for it. No public transportation system in the country is economically sustained by the fares paid by riders; all are subsidized by taxes. That public transit must be subsidized with tax dollars is recognized by virtually all transportation professionals, but the justification for creating or expanding a transit system is economic development. In essence, “If you build it, few will come but many will spend.” That point is well documented with the Charlotte, N.C., light rail system. A ride on the city’s 18.6-mile long LYNX Blue Line leaves no doubt that there is development along the system.   Construction of housing and commercial buildings is rampant along the newly… View Article

Express Toll Lanes: What you need to know

Express lanes: WSB Radio held an information session with transportation leaders this week about the metro area express toll lanes. With the Northwest Corridor reversible Express Toll Lanes (I-75/575) expected to be operational by Labor Day, the learning curve is steep. Listen to the program podcast here; read the highlights below. Highlights of the Northwest Corridor Reversible Express Toll Lanes on I-75/575 Pricing: A uniform pricing approach. During non-demand hours, (about midnight–5AM), the toll will be a flat 50 cents per trip,  regardless of length. Otherwise, a minimum charge of 10 cents per mile. Speed: The goal is to keep traffic moving at a minimum of 45 mph. Access: There are 10 new points of entry.… View Article

Bus Rapid Transit: Fast, Flexible, Forward-thinking

By Benita M. Dodd Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal’s Bus Rapid Transit plan for SR 400 is a breath of fresh air amid stale and misguided transit proposals for the metro Atlanta region. Unlike Atlanta’s costly, failing, fixed-rail Streetcar System – which MARTA plans to expand – Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) vehicles have the appealing appearance of light-rail cars but have rubber tires and travel on roads. Trips can be sped up by off-board fare collection at stations along the route. BRT in densely populated areas often uses exclusive lanes. The SR 400 project, planned as part of a $1.8 billion express toll lanes project on SR 400, has BRT sharing the road with automobiles in the toll lanes. The governor… View Article

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

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