Category: Transportation

Transit riders: Pawns in city’s popularity contest

By Benita Dodd In November 2011, MARTA announced it was moving seven bus routes in downtown Atlanta to make way for the $72 million streetcar line that will run from Centennial Olympic Park to the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic site. The streetcar Web site noted that, “The changes will remain in effect until further notice.” But don’t wait for the “further notice” to be that the MARTA routes will be restored. In fact, thanks to the street car construction, now there are changes in store for most Xpress bus riders as well, according to the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority (GRTA). GRTA’s board was asked today to approve the process to reroute the downtown Xpress buses off Peachtree Street.… View Article
Governor Nathan Deal has unveiled a package of tax reforms and tax credits that he says are essential to make Georgia the number one state in the nation to do business.  One theme was familiar – reducing the energy tax on manufacturing – but other elements were new from the Competitiveness Initiative Task Force that the governor announced one year ago. “Today, in executive offices right here in Georgia, business leaders are making the business decision to  expand manufacturing activity and facilities in neighboring states,” Deal said at the state Chamber of Commerce “Eggs and Issues” breakfast.  “Every time they make that decision, we miss out on new investment in our communities and new opportunities for Georgians.” Deal’s address to… View Article
Georgia’s eleventh-hour cancellation of a toll concession project on managed lanes along I-75 and I-575 in Cobb and Cherokee counties is a decision with enormous ramifications. It impacts mobility for one of the region’s most congested corridors, the thousands of jobs that would have been created in the process, and future opportunities to attract private investor partners to fund and expedite much-needed infrastructure. The state Department of Transportation calls public-private partnerships “a critical element of Georgia’s plans for sustainable investment in transportation.” Now fingers are being pointed in numerous directions over the cancellation of the promising west by northwest corridor, a move that astounded the three companies on the short list to build the billion-dollar project then manage the 60-year… View Article

Planners’ Transit Menu Ignores Commuters’ Tastes

By Benita M. Dodd  Imagine serving Brussels sprouts instead of broccoli casserole at Christmas dinner. You know most guests won’t eat them, but you believe they’ll bring balance to the meal and that guests will like them if only they taste them. That is the “build-it-they-will-come” mentality behind the project list for the July 31, 2012, penny transportation sales tax referendum in the Atlanta region. The vote on the 10-year transportation special purpose local option sales tax – TSPLOST – was central to the discussion at an Atlanta conference hosted by the Urban Land Institute on December 7. Not surprisingly, speakers frequently referred to the transportation referendum as the “transit referendum:” Fifty-two percent of the anticipated $6.1 billion in revenue… View Article

Better Busways Don’t Require Exclusive Lanes

By Robert Poole The idea of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) has gradually been catching on with U.S. transportation planners.  As counter-intuitive as it sounds, in most cases it’s a mistake to develop BRT systems based on exclusive rights of way. First, what some have called BRT-Lite can be a highly cost-effective improvement over regular city bus service. The best-known example of this is the highly successful Metro Rapid program in Los Angeles. Specially marked buses operate on regular lanes of major arterials in Los Angeles, with stops between one-half and one mile apart, and often getting through signalized intersections thanks to traffic signal priority. Those may sound like trivial improvements, but Metro Rapid routes offer longer-distance commuters considerable time savings… View Article

State must Ensure Georgians Warm Up to HOT Lanes

By Benita M. Dodd When a 16-mile High-Occupancy toll (HOT) lane demonstration project opened October 1 on Interstate 85 in metro Atlanta, it was no surprise that motorists crawling alongside in crowded general-purpose lanes got hot under the collar when they saw the nearly empty HOT lanes. What is surprising, however, is that state officials aren’t giving the Express Lanes time to succeed as a congestion relief measure. In the first week, the governor ordered a reduction in the tolls. That’s a reasonable response to market forces: Commuters will choose to ride in the Express Lanes if the toll is worth the value in their time savings. If they aren’t riding, the price is too high. Atlanta’s traffic problem is… View Article

The Wrong Road to Transportation Solutions

By Benita M. Dodd An annual survey of the nation’s roads by the Reason Foundation reveals a lot about congestion in Georgia. The state is ranked 10th in the nation for spending on maintenance but 39th for capital spending. It was No. 1 for the condition of its interstates, but at 31 in the nation for the percent of urban congestion. Put simply, Georgia’s roads are in great condition because they’re well maintained. But they’re congested because the state lags in adding capacity. And the state’s most congested urban region seems set to miss the best opportunity yet. A committee is finalizing a list of transportation projects for the 10-county metro Atlanta region based on an anticipated $6.14 billion pot… View Article
By Samuel StaleyShirley YbarraErich W. Zimmerman and Nick Donohue In the 20th century, the United States built some of the world’s pre-eminent transportation systems, including an interstate highway network that’s second to none. The challenge for the 21st century is to maintain this infrastructure while expanding our ability to efficiently move people and goods. We face multiple challenges. Money is tight, as the gasoline tax we rely on to build and maintain our transportation network loses its earning power due to improved fuel efficiency and rising costs. Meanwhile, transportation needs are increasing, as many of our roads, bridges and railways fall deeper into a state of disrepair. All of this is occurring in the context of… View Article

Turning up and transportation policy

The Civic League held “Get a Move On,” a 10-county regional round table on transportation, growth and metro Atlanta region’s future on a recent Saturday morning in downtown Atlanta. Transportation was the major focus, of course, given next year’s penny transportation sales tax referendum and the selection of projects currently under way. It was a clear warning that when it comes to how to divvy up the projected $7 billion in sales tax revenue, the squeaky wheel could get the grease. First order of business: If you ask people to press button No. 10, be sure you have a N0. 10 button on your poll clicker. There WAS someone in the room from Rockdale County, the 10th county on the… View Article

AFVs, HOVs and HOTs

When the new High-Occupancy Toll lanes open on I-85 this summer, buses, motorcycles and Alternate Fuel Vehicles may travel at no charge, as can vehicles with three or more occupants. Single- and double-occupant vehicles may choose to use the lane for a variably priced toll. Georgia’s current high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes allow free passage to vehicles with two or more occupants (even if the second occupant is an infant), transit buses, motorcycles and as well as AFVs. It’s high time they were put to better use — and a network of HOT lanes is a great use. Still, it’s a mystery to me why a lane aimed at reducing congestion would offer free access to AFVs, no matter how many… View Article

The Georgia Public Policy Foundation is the best source of the rarest and most valuable commodity in public policy debate: facts.

State Representative Bob Irvin more quotes