Brain Train candidate forum

The “Brain Train” put on a candidate forum last night in Lawrenceville and over 30 candidates showed up. The Gwinnett Daily Post has this article:

Ga. Republican Rep. John Heard suggested the candidates’ forum became more of a “Kumbaya” for the brain train than a debate on the pros and cons of the proposed 72-mile line between Athens and downtown Atlanta with 10 stops in between.

In fact, the mood was so overwhelmingly in favor of commuter rail that the one lone dissenter in the mix, State Rep. Steve Davis, was booed.

“Go back to Henry County,” one man yelled from the crowd after Davis finished his attack on the passenger train, which he called an unfunded mandate. He also suggested its political, government and business supporters were trying to “brainwash” the public.

I’m ambivalent toward this proposal. I see that is has merit, but I’d like to see much more private funding and much less, perhaps even no, public funding. Let the private sector run this Train and it will be much more successful. People may say not enough private funds are available, but is that because so much public funding is available? Why would an investor risk his own money when the government will spend our money, with no negative consequences possible?

Nevertheless, with over 30 candidates present last night, including Cathy Cox and Ralph Reed, it sure seems the “Brain Train” has plenty of support and might be inevitable.


  1. Harry says:

    Buzz, I was there. It was a staged event hosted by the interested parties on that side – ie, those who are looking for federal and local pork to fund it. On it’s own merits it will never fly unless there is heavy, heavy pork involved. The setup cost under the best scenario is hundreds of millions. The operating cost per passenger mile, even under the best assumptions, must be heavily subsidized.

  2. Bill Simon says:

    The Brain Train looks to me to be just another end-around to get STATE and FEDERAL tax dollars into a project to make sure Dawg fans can get to and from their home games in the fall.

    Sanford Stadium was expanded by sucking-up Georgia tax dollars. UGA gets more state tax dollars per student than any other college in Georgia. Why? Because we have a state government packed chock-full of so many bubba-grads that all they know how to do is whoop “Go dawgs!” and pass crappy-ass legislation.

  3. Tommy_a2b says:

    This project is the same as the “Government” building a toll road. If we need the ability for transpertation this could be a good option. I would like to know the cost comparason for this project vs a toll road. Anyone know?

  4. Good question Tommy.

    Roads are heavily subsidized by taxes on gasoline and elsewhere. Steve Davis seems to equate this to roads “paying for themselves” but to me that is a very narrow view. Transportation taxes, whether they be on gas, registration, commuter entry to a jurisdiction (probably coming soon to America) are eligible for use for any transportation problem.

    The #1 problem in Georgia with transportation is congestion. Steve Davis I’m sure thinks more roads are the answer, but that is only one way to look at congestion. There have to be a lot of people (I know I’m one) that enjoy getting somewhere without taking my car. Less stress, I can take a nap, etc. So as long as you are at least somewhat open minded, you can see where alternative solutions to congestion include alternative modes of transportation, like the train.

    Every city in the country that has a good public transportation system has a system that is well liked and well used. For some reason we think Atlantans would not embrace a more functioning system, I think that is insane. Gwinnett and Cobb, in my opinion, made the wrong decision on MARTA 25 years ago and now it is, for the most part too late to right that wrong (with MARTA). People like Steve Davis were the reason for that shortsightedness.

    Why UGA wouldn’t want some sort of transporation alternative is beyond me. Just think about how much easier it will be to fly to or from Athens if you can take a train to the Atlanta airport. Atlanta’s exurbs (like Athens) do a decent job of existing on their own right now, yet the main problem with living in a place like Athens, Cumming, Canton, Jackson, etc is when you actually need to go to Atlanta for business during a weekday.

    I hope our state’s leaders going forward are willing to embrace creative transportation solutions instead of the same roads roads roads mentality that has gotten us into our transportation problem in the first place. Well, I’ve got to get on MARTA. I’ll save a seat for Bill.

  5. buzzbrockway says:


    Rep. Davis says the cost of the Brain Train will be between $300 million and $1 billion. For the sake of argument, let’s say it will cost $650 million(mid point of Davis’ estimate). As I recall, the proposal by the Parkway Group to improve 316 and convert into a toll road would cost $1 billion(perhaps someone with a better memory could correct me). However, the Parkway Group project would have provided cost much less fewer taxpayer $$.

  6. Bull Moose says:

    It’s a good idea and helps us reduce our dependency on the automobile and in turn will help conserve gas.

    For the Atlanta-Athens area it is a no-brainer in my view.

    I hope it happens.

    Though, how come, European countries can have 180 mph. high speed rail and we can’t???

  7. Harry says:

    This “Brain Train” would haul 5,000 or best case 10,000 passengers per day. The traffic volume on GA316 (2005) is between 130,000 and 140,000 vehicles per day.

  8. Tommy_a2b says:

    Harry, what happens when people get to the breaking point on gas price? What happens to gas price when we go to war in IRAN? Oh, did I just predict the future? I did not mean to. Take +/- 10,000 cars off 316 per day may be a good start, MAYBE.

    In dollars roads go every day where they are needed and not needed. My tax dollars went to a road in middle GA that is 5 lanes (I think I remember 5 lanes, maybe it is only 4) and I can take a nap on it a never get hit by a car during rush hour. Ask yourself how I know way up in North GA, because they (the GOVERNMENT) bought part of my land to build it. The land I have on both sides of the road is a timber farm and the county it is in probably does not have the population of the city of Buford. I wish that road would have been built in N GA between Canton and Gainesville or Lawrenceville. No hate mail please, ha ha ha.

  9. RiverRat says:

    I’ll take the whole cost-analysis stuff seriously when people demand that planes and airports pay for themselves, and when roads start paying for themselves. All the roads Davis wants to build will be built…. on the backs of taxpayers!!

    I’m all about private investment in rail – but I find it hypocritical to suggest that rail should be forced to succeed in an environment where NOBODY is succeeding. I think a fair debate is rather which form of transportation people would prefer. Making the argument about rail paying for itself ignores the fact that the government a) pays for roads at taxpayer expense b) subsidizes airline companies to the tunes of billions.

    I think plenty of people would prefer rail, which the Gwinnett polls prove. People have experienced the “best” in road building, and want something else. Roads don’t really “succeed” – they cost billions in taxpayer money and people complain about the congestion.

    Airline companies don’t really succeed, either- they are all going under. Plus the whole security thing is a hassle – most people I know HATE flying, but hey, there isn’t an alternative because the government has decided it wants to subsidize airline corporations rather than any sort of rail alternative.

  10. Harry says:

    Keep in mind that this thing would make lots of stops before it gets to Atlanta. Every politician needs it to stop in their burg.

  11. hccitizen says:

    “I think plenty of people would prefer rail, which the Gwinnett polls prove.”

    Who sponsored and conducted the poll? How were respondents selected? A typical Henry Chamber of Commerce poll starts with its own executive committee, their neighbors, their friends, their families… then they move on to Chamber members who stand to profit from raiding the public treasury. But never question whether it was a legitimate indicator of every single person in the county!

    I have seen too many staged public events. Heck, I have even staged a few…. the press people love it.

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