A Very Dumb Idea

This has been bugging me for a while and I’m just going to put it out there knowing who reads this blog.

There is more and more talk of a “high speed

27 comments

  1. http://www.ajc.com/opinion/content/opinion/stories/0813edequal.html

    Hello Peach Pundit. This is my forst post on this site and I think it is quite fitting it is about commuter rail. The attached link is to my last editorial in the AJC from about 10 days ago, which gives a comparison on Orlando, Lovejoy, and the Brain Drain.

    I am glad to see Eric supporting my evaluation of the Lovejoy line, which is that hardly anyone will ride the dumb thing. However, I will disagree that the high speed rail lines sound any better. The actual figures for these projects are substantially higher and the article that you linked was quite old and done by the very organization that is lobbying for its implementation. It will cost much more than the $300 Million they say can get them to Jax, just to get to Macon!

    The main thing I have preached is to get all the information out to the public and lets have a real discussion with accurate information and costs. I also believe the taxpayers should have the right to vote on all these big government highly subsidized entitlement programs!

    I have been told so many times by the rail advocates that the people really want this project, but I cant seem to find the everyday folks that want this at all and if that was the case a vote of the people should be no problem. We had a non binding referendum placed on the ballot in Henry County on the July 18th primary in which over 84% of the voters said they believed it should go to vote. I believe this is much more telling than a biased poll done by the BTG of only 400 people!

    Two more quick issues:

    1. Mike King has an editorial today in the AJC talking about cost effective congestion relief and express buses. Pretty interesting http://www.ajc.com/opinion/content/opinion/king/stories/0824edmking.html

    2. I was just coming back from lunch and saw gas for $2.69! I bet all the transit fanatics that were celebrating high gas prices are disappointed they are coming down again. I can hear it now, “Lets raise the gas tax”, it will encourage more transit ridership.

  2. RiverRat says:

    Way to pick the worst ideas to illustrate the potential for commuter rail. An Atlanta-Charlotte high speed train, or the Athens-Atlanta line would be cheaper and used more than than an Atlanta-Macon or an Atlanta-Jax line. And with the BS it takes to fly now a days, hopping on a high speed train to Charlotte for a days worth of business would be a lot easier than an AirTran flight.

    And using the Henry County GOP primary figure to define public support for commuter rail is about as valid as asking DeKalb County Democrats about private school vouchers. I’m really not sure how you can so easily discount the Gwinnett County polling about support for a commuter rail. So the company which paid for the poll is an advocate for trains – when a campaign releases polling numbers, we at least consider that they are generally accurate, if perhaps optimistic. And those numbers were out of the park, even AFTER negatives were read. Perhaps folks in Henry County may be wary, I won’t try and argue that – but folks who live with sprawl are dying for alternatives. Try that commuter rail resolution in Gwinnett County and see how it turns out.

  3. Decaturguy says:

    So, can I count you down as a supporter of the express bus idea, Rep. Davis, and is the state willing to support it, or are you just in favor of more “road widening?”

    I think it has been pretty well establised that we can’t pave our way out of this mess, Rep. Davis. Giving commuters a choice among many different options is the only way out of it. Maybe the Lovejoy line is a boondoggle, but I don’t think that means that all rapid transit need be.

  4. UGA Wins 2006 says:

    We should put a bright yellow sign up here:

    “Libs At Work”

    Of course we would have to asterik it and add in small print at the bottom: With your money.

    In never ceases to amaze he at the hair brained schemes these libs come up with when the issue is spending tax payer funds. And of course Norfolk Southern and CSX are on board because they get their rail beds upgraded at no cost to themselves and their freight business becomes more efficient. Meanwhile, you can board a slow boat (train) to Atlanta from Macon, wade through the derelicts not only in Macon but also in Atlanta, have to find your transit connection once you get to Atlanta, and be tied to the train schedule for your return home rather than having your car waiting for your use at your own schedule.

    This is a total boondoggle, a complete waste of hard earned taxpayer money and a project that rivals the 8 Track Tape for efficiency. 85% of the GOP voters in Henry County (I might remind you they still are in a majority there) voted Hell No on the project. Blowing off their wishes reminds me of the intellectual superiority Democrats think they possess and why they usally believe they know better than John and Jane Taxpayer.

    I salute Rep Davis for taking the lead and the flak on this issue and slam the McDonough City Council, Clayton County and anyone else who has taken leave of their senses by pushing this particular project. I wish we had his sort of leadership here in the city of Atlanta.

  5. CHelf says:

    Anyone saying this would not work and this would attract those such as homeless, etc. need to look into northern VA. Anyone living there working in DC know that the VRE works just fine. There are other instances of such rail lines working and actually providing more development closer to those lines and opening the door for more competitive labor forces from other areas of the state.

  6. Erick says:

    CHelf,
    I worked in DC for a year. I’m a big fan of their public transit system.

    Atlanta to Macon and back is not Manassas to DC and back.

  7. memberg says:

    1) So what if it takes longer? It often takes longer to take MARTA to the airport than to drive, but that doesn’t make it a bad way to get there? Maybe I’m missing something here, but time isn’t the only factor in deciding to drive or take mass transit. What about cost? What about not having to drive?

    2) I’d love the Greyhound station to move off Spring St. Maybe we could finally get a Chick-fil-A downtown.

    3) Regarding the “urban squatters,” if enough “normal” people had to go to Terminal Station every morning, the squatters would be forced out. TS would beef up security, vendors would actually open up shop there, and the riders would generally not tolerate a dirty, unsafe environment.

  8. Decaturguy says:

    I guess you don’t support economic development in Macon, then, Erick. I hope you don’t have any plans on running for office there.

  9. Overincorporated Fulton says:

    This particular idea may not be a great one, but we shouldn’t trash commuter rail. First of all, Rep. Davis is an blithering ideologue, as demonstrated by this statement:

    “I also believe the taxpayers should have the right to vote on all these big government highly subsidized entitlement programs!”

    What part of commuter rail is an ‘entitlement’? It’s no more an entitlement than roads, so should voters have to approve every new road project as well? I’m shocked by your support for so much direct democracy! More likely, I think that Rep. Davis just likes to throw around the word ‘entitlement’ to activate the nerve centers of conservative voters and turn them against commuter rail with vocabulary, not ideas.

    Erick, of course, is ‘entitled’ to his opinion on mass transit, but I for one would consider more than the speed with which I would arrive in Atlanta. I live on the northside, so this is a relatively moot point for me. However, if I could choose between white-knuckle traffic for 45 minutes or riding a train for 60 minutes during which time I could read the paper, fiddle with my blackberry, or, if offered Wifi, post on Peachpundit, I would choose the train hands down. The opportunity to relieve stress definitely overrides my compulsive need to have my car instantly available to me. I have a feeling that lots of people might agree with me, but I don’t really know. I don’t have any partisan primary ballot question results to back me up, unlike the brilliant Rep. Davis.

  10. Jason says:

    For some reason Steve Davis can’t log on right now, but he’s asked me to post this response:

    In response to Riverrat,

    Mr River can you tell the difference in leading questions? The survey was clearly directing answers to enhance their numbers to use as propaganda for their campaign for the project, just look at the questions and you clearly see which one is leading and which one is not. Please notice “for thousands” and also in the other question “Some county funds” and then compare it with the ballot question. If you can not tell the difference then your smoking whatever it is they are handing out! Oh, and just to make a point 91.3% of the responders on a car and only 18.7% said they actually commute to Atl or Dekalb! Nice poll.

    Brain Train Group Question:

    The proposal for the new passenger railroad line is being called The Brain Train. It would link together ten Georgia universities including the University of Georgia, Georgia Gwinnett College, Emory University, Georgia Tech, the Atlanta University Center, Agnes Scott, and Georgia State University. The link would also include the CDC, the bioscience corridor in Gwinnett, and many major employers in metro Atlanta. The rail line would provide alternative transportation for thousands of Gwinnett commuters every day. The rail line would follow existing railroad tracks already built in the area. Generally speaking, would you support or oppose creating this new commuter rail line?

    And in addition to other questions here is another one from the Brain Train Group:

    Some county funds would be required to finance the passenger rail line. The six counties served by the rail service may have to share together about $6 million annually in subsidies to support it. Is this argument: [READ CHOICES] Very persuasive, somewhat persuasive, not very persuasive, not at all persuasive, dont know, or refused to answer.

    Henry County Ballot question:

    Should you be able to vote on a transit system that is paid for or maintained by county taxes?

  11. Mad Dog says:

    Where do we get this expected travel time?

    From a real estate agent?

    My agent told me I was just 20 minutes from the downtown. Only that was downtown Flowery Branch not downtown Atlanta.

    My real travel time varies on weather. That being weather or knot there are other idiots on the road wid me.

    Overincorporated, don’t forget the women that can put on their makeup on the train, the men that can shave, and … the great unwashed masses.

    (I am a great unwashed mass 6 out of 7 days)

    Have I been banned from posting yet?

  12. Decaturguy says:

    “Should you be able to vote on a transit system that is paid for or maintained by county taxes?”

    If I am a judge, I would interpret that to mean that the voters have to vote up or down every new road project, every new bridge built, every new bus route, etc.

    Talk about “a very dumb idea.”

  13. Jason says:

    Decaturguy,

    That question is non-binding, as it appeared on the GOP ballot in July. By the way, 84% of GOP primary voters said “Yes.”

  14. CHelf says:

    I have as well Erick. Why do you say it is not the same? And why could it not be the same? Don’t forget the rail also goes to Fredricksburg. Don’t forget that before that line existed, very few people that far out even thought about working in DC. It created a whole new life for dying areas. Have you been there lately? Even past Dulles is turning into a nice little area to live in.

  15. Decaturguy says:

    I wasn’t commenting that it was binding or whether a majority of voters supported it, I’m just saying it’s a dumb policy if it were the law.

  16. Decaturguy says:

    Chelf,

    That is a good point. A train between Macon and Atlanta would economically connect a part of the state, particularly the small towns between Macon and Atlanta that are struggling economically, with the powerful economic engine of Metro Atlanta. Otherwise, places south of Atlanta will just continue to slowly die.

    If Republicans want to be against the economic revival of these areas then so be it.

  17. mercergirl says:

    I work in downtown Macon and really the homeless there are pretty harmless, and I should know. I have been down there at all hours of the day and night, due to the fact that I work in the restaurant business. They are bothersome and unatractive, but that’s about it. I like how Athens has dealt with them (But that would be going into another subject entirely). I don’t really have any opinion of the Greyhound station moving to the Terminal Station, but I do think something should be done with the building (as the CVB is moving soon) and I think a commuter rail is a good idea, perhaps taking out some of the stops in between. More and more people in Macon are working and shopping and and partying such in Atlanta, and the traffic is frankly a problem on the interstate. And like Decaterguy said, it would economically connect this part of the state.

    Macon has so much potential and I think this could certainly help bring it “closer” to Atlanta in some sense by giving more incentive to people who work in Atlanta to live in Macon- we need that income base.

  18. Jace Walden says:

    Decaturguy,

    If you want places South, North, East, or West of Atlanta to grow, then you need to take away incentives for our best and brightest to stay in Atlanta. Give them incentive to go to Macon, Augusta, Valdosta, and Savannah. A transportation system which according to your rhetoric is some type of god send on commuters will only make it easier for people to stay in Atlanta.

  19. Mad Dog says:

    I hate not having a real sense of humor.

    Do we round up all the homeless people everytime a child gets murdered like Jon Benet Ramsey?

  20. Decaturguy says:

    Jace,

    That really doesn’t make any sense.

    Atlanta is not going away. A good transportation system would allow other parts of the state to grow with Atlanta. A high speed train would not be a disincentive to living in places like Macon. It would actually be an incentive to stay in Macon while being able to connect with Atlanta easier to conduct necessary business there.

    With a good high speed train line, you might be able to get to Atlanta faster from Macon than you could driving from some of Atlanta’s northern suburbs.

    I just don’t understand why you would be against creating economic opportunities for other parts of Georgia, other than just hardheaded ideology against rapid transit.

  21. Jace Walden says:

    Decaturguy,

    That’s just the point. Atlanta isn’t going away. It will continue to grow. Why?

    It’s because Atlanta is the first place in the state to get any kind of consideration from the state legislature and the department of transportation. It’s treated like a two year old kid that is still breast feeding and needs to be weened immediately.

    Think about it like this. What is the number one factor when deciding where to live, work, and start a business? Quality of life. I’ll say it again. Quality of life. Sure, there are going to be a few people here and there that continue to stick it out in a low quality of life place just to pick up a couple of extra bucks here and there. But the vast majority of people are going to go somewhere where they can make comparable pay with a better overall quality of life.

    That explains why states like Alabama, North Carolina, Ohio, and Florida have more than one major urban hub. Georgia is the largest state east of the Mississippi river, yet we have one truly Urban area–Atlanta. Make all the arguments you want about Macon…Atlanta is our ONE major city.

    Why? It’s because we keep giving people and businesses incentives to stay in Atlanta. We keep making adjustments in our budgets to keep Atlanta going, basically ignoring the rest of the state. What we need is to get people OUT of Atlanta and into places like Macon, Valdosta, Augusta, Savannah, and Columbus.

    Unless you have a plan to build a rail line from ATL to all of these cities, then get over this commuter rail pipe dream. All the rail will do is keep people in Atlanta.

  22. Demonbeck says:

    We should have commuter rail.

    It should go from Macon to Atlanta – non stop.

    If you live in between, drive to Macon and board the train or drive to Atlanta and get caught in traffic. Your choice.

    Once that is off the ground, connect Macon with a non-stop commuter train from Savannah – the only major city in Georgia that is more than two hours from Atlanta.

    When it takes you more than two hours to drive from Atlanta to Athens outside of Saturdays in the Fall, then we can start talking about trains.

    (I’ve just always wanted to say this.) What the hell is Lovejoy and who the hell thought it would be a good place to put a train station?

  23. Decaturguy says:

    That still doesn’t make any sense Jace. All I can assume is that you do not want the rest of Georgia to have the chance to share in Atlanta’s prosperity.

    What better incentive to locate a business in an otherwise backwater town somewhere between Macon and Atlanta than if it had access to a high speed train route that would give the business direct access to the Atlanta airport, and Atlanta itself, yet continue to be able to operate in a low cost business environment of the small town? It would be the best of both worlds – access to the benefits of locating in Atlanta without having the high overhead of actually operating in Atlanta.

    That in turn would revitalize these towns, because new businesses would attract new employees and new residents who want to live close to where they work, helping the existing economy, etc.

    Otherwise, these businesses will just continue to operate in Metro Atlanta and not give the rest of the state an oppotunity to share the prosperity.

  24. Demonbeck says:

    Decaturguy,

    Are you advocating having a non-stop high-speed rail connection from every small town in Georgia?

    Advocating non-stop high speed commuter rail from a small town to a large town makes about as much sense as ending I-16 at Soperton so it could benefit from a connection to Savannah.

  25. mercergirl says:

    UGA Matthew

    When I lived in Athens there were these parking meter things set up so that people could put money in there and it would go to the homeless. I think they were pretty new at the time, but there was also a culture over there that didn’t seem to be bothered by the homeless. I worked at a clothing boutique on Collge St and when the homeless people scared me my boss told me they wouldn’t bother me, for me to ignore them. That was the attitude that most people had- I’m not sure how that came about. But I do know that if people had the same attitude in Macon it would help. I think some of it is that there was an exodus from downtown right around the time the Mall was built. It is only recently that people are trying to revitalize downtown again. Not that long ago Cherry St was where the prostitutes hung out, now there are fine dining restaurants and nightclubs, etc.

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