Public transportation: solution or problem?

The Atlanta Regional Commission and cities in North Fulton County are currently collaborating on a “comprehensive transportation plan” to solve the persistent traffic issues in this part of the world. This is a great idea and I hope that the result of this collaboration will actually be productive but the closer I follow this process the less optimistic I become.

The main reason for my budding pessimism is that it is now clear many business and political leaders are convinced that public transportation will solve this area’s traffic problem. If the people participating in this process don’t understand that public transportation produces inefficient delivery systems then they will never be able to produce a transportation plan which will serve my families and my neighbors well.

I would like to point out an article that was published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle in 2009. The article states that Georgia State University’s  Economic Forecasting Center now predicts that Atlanta’s MARTA public transportation system will suffer losses of more than 1.4 billion dollars over the next decade (emphasis mine). Here is the link so you can read the whole thing:

http://atlanta.bizjournals.com/atlanta/stories/2009/08/10/daily57.html

Ladies and gentlemen 1.4 billion dollars is alot of money, even in today’s world of trillion dollar deficits.  And there is no reason to believe that MARTA’s losses will stop at that point. MARTA is already drain on Georgia’s taxpayers and if we expand a failing system it will be even more expensive.

Right now our state is already facing enormous budget deficits. School systems are facing brutal choices because of the current economy. Do taxpayers really want to expand our financial commitment to a transportation system that has already demonstrated an inability to responsibly serve our needs?

North Fulton residents, business leaders and politicians must now answer this question: Are we going to be responsible for our own transportation solutions or are we going to risk our future on an insolvent bureaucracy that will burden us forever. I hope we choose wisely because the future is at stake.

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4 thoughts on “Public transportation: solution or problem?

  1. This is one of the most ridiculous things I have ever read. You say that MARTA is a “drain on Georgia taxpayers.” Are you aware that MARTA is the only large public transit system in North America that does not receive any state funding? This is a completely false and ignorant argument that is used over and over by those opposed to public transportation. MARTA is paid for entirely by ticket income and a 1% sales tax in Fulton and Dekalb counties (a sales tax which the voters themselves voted for). The projected $1.4 billion deficit is due to the loss of sales tax because of the economic downturn. MARTA has already raised fares and reduced service, so the deficit will be reduced.

    In addition, MARTA’s hands are tied by the state. MARTA has enough money to completely fund its operations, but state law requires that 50% of MARTA’s budget be set aside for capital improvements. Thus, despite the fact that Georgia does not pay a cent to MARTA, they set rules that don’t allow MARTA to spend its own money. Purdue’s newest transportation bill wisely calls for this restriction to be removed.

    I personally do not own a car, and use MARTA to get to work. If MARTA did not exist, I would not be able to continue working, and would lose my job. The thousands of dollars in taxes I pay to the state of Georgia would disappear. The same would be true for the 280,000 other people that use MARTA every single day; it is the 7th most used public transit system in the entire country. Many many people depend on it, from people like me who chose not to own a car, to people who can’t afford a car, to the disabled and elderly, and those who just want to get to the airport or a sporting event without dealing with traffic.

    As far as tax payer subsidies, who do you think pays for the roads you drive on? Billions and billions of dollars are spent on road infrastructure, and you’re not complaining about that. The 14th st bridge project alone cost over $100,000,000… just for the fixing of one bridge over the highway.

    In addition, study after study by the CDC and Universites have shown the benefits of public transit. Atlanta has a high obesity rate and one of the highest asthma rates in the country, all of which are are tied to the automobile lifestyle. In fact, we have previously lost Federal highway funding because our air quality was so bad that it violated EPA standards.

    Next time, learn the facts before you make a post attacking public transit.

  2. Pingback: In which I respond to the towering genius of rude commenter Paul « ……..GA Jim

  3. Pingback: In which I respond to the towering genius of rude commenter Paul, part III « ……..GA Jim

  4. Pingback: In which I respond to the towering genius of rude commenter Paul, Part II « ……..GA Jim

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