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Old Posted Mar 30, 2016, 1:41 PM
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Atlanta - MARTA expansion bill passes

This happened last Friday.
The Georgia legislature passed SB 369, which will allow the city of Atlanta to place on the ballot a .5-percent sales tax to fund transit projects.
  • The tax would raise an estimated $2.4 billion.
  • It would last until 2057.
  • The money would go to MARTA and could potentially fund new MARTA lines, infill stations, Beltline transit, bus improvements, and other transit improvements.
  • A list of projects must be finalized by May 2016, to be included on the ballot initiative and voted on in November 2016.

This will hopefully end decades of regional transit roadblock. Previous efforts were stalled when agreement couldn't be reached between the suburbs, counties, and the city of Atlanta. While this compromise is a major setback to a regional transit plan (commuter rail, etc), it will allow the city of Atlanta to proceed with expanded transit in the core of the region. The other question left unanswered is DeKalb County, which is already part of MARTA and generally wants transit expansion (including heavy rail along I-20 and light rail on the Clifton corridor to CDC and Emory), but is left out of this bill.
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Old Posted Mar 30, 2016, 2:21 PM
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Will residents vote to give themselves the tax increase or not? Predictions?
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Old Posted Mar 30, 2016, 2:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Eightball View Post
Will residents vote to give themselves the tax increase or not? Predictions?
most everyone ITP knows marta is underfunded, so there seems to be a ton of support for this in the core area. TSPLOST passed in these core counties a few years back, even though there were a lot of qualms about too much directed to roads.

http://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/r...by-region.html
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Last edited by cabasse; Mar 30, 2016 at 3:59 PM.
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Old Posted Mar 30, 2016, 3:10 PM
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Originally Posted by cabasse View Post
most everyone ITP knows marta is underfunded, so there seems to be a ton of support for this in the core area. TSPLOST passed in these core counties a few years back, even though there were a lot of qualms about too much spending for roads.

http://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/r...by-region.html
Agreed. I think the prospects of this passing in just the City of Atlanta is pretty good. Too bad I don't live in Atlanta anymore because I would definitely vote for it.
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Old Posted Mar 30, 2016, 3:53 PM
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Since it's just the city voting on it, I doubt it will have trouble passing. I'm worried about the scope of this, though. Will the monies only be allowed to be used in the City of Atlanta, or can they also be used in Fulton an DeKalb Counties? That discrepancy might make it less palatable to citizens of Atlanta.
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Old Posted Mar 30, 2016, 4:02 PM
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There is a huge amount of support for transit in the city proper, and I expect this will pass by a large margin.
As cabasse mentioned above, when there was a metro-wide vote for a sales tax increase to fund transportation (including both transit and roads), the measure failed because of large opposition in the suburbs and exurbs. The city of Atlanta was the only jurisdiction where a majority of voters said yes.



Similarly, all recent votes to fund infrastructure have passed in the city of Atlanta (general infrastructure bond, water/sewer tax, etc).
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Old Posted Mar 30, 2016, 4:03 PM
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Originally Posted by tascalisa View Post
Since it's just the city voting on it, I doubt it will have trouble passing. I'm worried about the scope of this, though. Will the monies only be allowed to be used in the City of Atlanta, or can they also be used in Fulton an DeKalb Counties? That discrepancy might make it less palatable to citizens of Atlanta.
I think that will make it more palatable. The money raised in the city limits will be spent in the city limits. Again, that's a blow to regional transit ambitions, but a huge gain for expanded transit in the area that is already the most dense and most transit-oriented.
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Old Posted Mar 30, 2016, 7:46 PM
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what is the current sales tax in atlanta?
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Old Posted Mar 31, 2016, 1:53 AM
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Originally Posted by shivtim View Post
I think that will make it more palatable. The money raised in the city limits will be spent in the city limits. Again, that's a blow to regional transit ambitions, but a huge gain for expanded transit in the area that is already the most dense and most transit-oriented.
Oh I agree, when I said discrepancy I meant the possibility of it being spent outside the city limits. I know that here in Birmingham, if I voted to increase taxes in the city to spend in the county it would be a bit of a downer. I mean, there's the perk of a more unified region, but if it's MY city paying more money for transit in areas (more affluent areas, mind you) that aren't bearing the burden, I might be less inclined to vote for the tax.

Anyways, maybe this new funding will enhance transit in the core enough to encourage "outsiders" to support future funding.
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Old Posted Mar 31, 2016, 12:56 PM
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Originally Posted by tascalisa View Post
Oh I agree, when I said discrepancy I meant the possibility of it being spent outside the city limits. I know that here in Birmingham, if I voted to increase taxes in the city to spend in the county it would be a bit of a downer. I mean, there's the perk of a more unified region, but if it's MY city paying more money for transit in areas (more affluent areas, mind you) that aren't bearing the burden, I might be less inclined to vote for the tax.

Anyways, maybe this new funding will enhance transit in the core enough to encourage "outsiders" to support future funding.
Ah, makes sense. The current 1% MARTA sales tax (in Fulton, DeKalb, and Clayton counties, including all of the city of Atlanta) can continue to fund transit in the region. The state spends *some* money on metro transit, mostly on express bus routes from the suburbs into major employment centers. This new proposed 0.5% tax would indeed be raised only in Atlanta and used only in Atlanta. I think it would still be very useful to suburbanites. People can take the MARTA heavy rail in from the big park-and-ride stations at the end of the lines, and then once they get in to town there will be more of those "last mile" transit options within Atlanta. In the future, this legislation leaves room for Fulton county (not including the city of Atlanta) to vote on up to 0.25% sales tax to fund commuter rail.

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Originally Posted by eleven=11 View Post
what is the current sales tax in Atlanta?
It's at 8% right now. The maximum it can go to, by state law, is 9%. I think this will be palatable to people, as some nearby cities have sales taxes higher than this (9.25 in Nashville, 10 in Birmingham, etc).




Here is the current proposed 52-mile light rail / streetcar network. Much of the funding would likely fund some of this:



BeltLine Central Loop –
Bi-directional loop operation along the Atlanta BeltLine corridor

Crosstown Inner Loop –
Bi-directional onstreet and loop operation along Fair St/MLK Jr Dr/Luckie St/Auburn Ave/Edgewood Ave/Irwin St/Atlanta BeltLine corridor

Crosstown Outer Loop –
Bi-directional onstreet and loop operation along Northside Dr/Luckie St/Capitol Ave/Hank Aaron Dr/Atlanta BeltLine corridor

Crosstown Midtown Line –

Bi-directional on-street operation along DL Hollowell Pkwy/North Ave corridor between the East and West Atlanta BeltLine corridors

Crosstown Crescent Line – Bi-directional on-street operation along Joseph E Lowery Blvd/Ralph D Abernathy Blvd/Georgia Ave corridor between the Southeast and West Atlanta BeltLine corridors

Crosstown Peachtree Line –
Bi-directional on-street operation along the Peachtree St/West Peachtree St/Peters St/Lee St/Campbellton Rd corridor between Greenbriar Mall and Buckhead

Last edited by shivtim; Mar 31, 2016 at 1:10 PM.
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Old Posted Mar 31, 2016, 6:38 PM
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This is good news. Given MARTA, Atlanta has more to work with than a lot of cities do.
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Old Posted Mar 31, 2016, 6:45 PM
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Lightbulb

Quote:
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This is good news. Given MARTA, Atlanta has more to work with than a lot of cities do.
It's "good" news they will be having a refrendrum, it'll be "great" news if it passes!
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Old Posted Mar 31, 2016, 6:49 PM
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The heat maps indicate it will pass, no?
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Old Posted Mar 31, 2016, 7:00 PM
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that's great
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Old Posted Mar 31, 2016, 8:30 PM
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Why is there a plan for a Peachtree line? I mean, I get that Peachtree is the 5th Avenue of Atlanta but there's already a MARTA line beneath it. I would not choose to spend limited transit funds for light rail in that corridor.

They'd be better off spending that money on the other corridors for a more total street overhaul to avoid the slow travel of the existing Atlanta Streetcar.
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Old Posted Apr 1, 2016, 2:03 AM
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Originally Posted by ardecila View Post
Why is there a plan for a Peachtree line? I mean, I get that Peachtree is the 5th Avenue of Atlanta but there's already a MARTA line beneath it. I would not choose to spend limited transit funds for light rail in that corridor.
My understanding is the Peachtree line as shown will probably never come to fruition, although parts of it may be built as a development tool. It's technically only in the current (unfunded) plan as a final phase project, not to be built until after 2040. It's not even in the Atlanta Regional Commission's RTP.

Word on the street is that the $ would be used for 4 MARTA infill stations on the existing heavy rail network (at least 2 of which would be designed to interface with Beltline light rail), a large portion of the proposed light rail network (much of which would be grade-separated along the Beltline), and expanded or new bus routes including express bus / circulator style routes.

This is probably a more realistic expectation, from ARC's Plan:


The blue lines are the most likely to be built. But we'll find out by the end of May, when the city council has to approve MARTA's list to send to the voters.

Last edited by shivtim; Apr 1, 2016 at 2:16 AM.
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Old Posted Apr 1, 2016, 3:19 AM
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The heat maps indicate it will pass, no?
Yes, it will passed. You'll see.
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Old Posted Apr 1, 2016, 4:13 AM
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Does MARTA have the least diverse ridership of any major transit system in the country? Every time I ride it (happened to this AM) i'm struck by the lack of diversity. Hopefully this expansion happens (although I'm skeptical it will) and that starts to change.
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Old Posted Apr 1, 2016, 4:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ardecila View Post
Why is there a plan for a Peachtree line? I mean, I get that Peachtree is the 5th Avenue of Atlanta but there's already a MARTA line beneath it. I would not choose to spend limited transit funds for light rail in that corridor.

They'd be better off spending that money on the other corridors for a more total street overhaul to avoid the slow travel of the existing Atlanta Streetcar.
And that's not even mentioning the mingling with traffic the trains would do...

I agree with the others, I doubt a Peachtree light rail line would ever be funded/built. Needed capacity would be better covered with better frequency on the MARTA rather than new construction on surface streets.
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Old Posted Apr 1, 2016, 1:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Eightball View Post
Does MARTA have the least diverse ridership of any major transit system in the country? Every time I ride it (happened to this AM) i'm struck by the lack of diversity. Hopefully this expansion happens (although I'm skeptical it will) and that starts to change.
I never hear people faulting Portland's transit system for having mostly white riders. I wonder why that is?

The top 10 least diverse transit ridership cities (of the 100 biggest cities) are:
East Los Angeles CDP - 99% hispanic
Santa Ana - 92% black
Detroit - 92% black
East Orange NJ - 90% black
Union NJ - 85% hispanic
Memphis - 88% black
El Paso - 87% hispanic
Hoboken - 80% white
Miami Beach - 78% hispanic
Anaheim - 78% hispanic

MARTA sits at 74% black, so it's just outside the top 10. You can see the data here. But it's important to pay attention to the discrepancy between overall demographics and transit rider demographics. As of the 2010 census, the city of Atlanta is 54% black and 36% non-Hispanic white. So it makes sense that the majority of riders are black, especially on the southern parts of the system because the south side of Atlanta is heavily black. There are similar or greater discrepancies between transit demographics and overall demographics in cities with rail like St.Louis, Cleveland, and Charlotte, and in many bus-only cities like Cincinnati, Kansas City, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Louisville, Nashville, and Albany. So Atlanta transit demographics really aren't out of the ordinary.

It also depends on where and when you ride it. If you take the red line in from North Springs on a morning commute, it's almost all white people. Heading up to Doraville during the day, it's a broad mix of people including Latinos and Asians.
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