Rail is Dead

The Atlanta to Macon rail line appears to be dead. Senator Staton does not favor it, nor do most of the other Republicans.

Frankly, I’m not opposed to light rail as a solution to traffic congestion. We subsidize the cost of roads and we could do the same thing with rail.

That said, the ATL-MCN train is a horrible idea and deserves to die.

79 comments

  1. Flatpickpaul says:

    Commuter rail has a bright future in Georgia, and the highly-conservative Augusta Chronicle agrees in its editorial from Sunday.

    http://chronicle.augusta.com/stories/020407/edi_115105.shtml

    Emory Morsberger has seven daughters. So there are lots of birthdays at his house.

    The only problem is getting there.

    And Atlanta traffic doesn’t help.

    Once, the Lilburn redeveloper was sitting in I-85 traffic, late for a daughter’s birthday, and thought to himself there has to be a better way to get there from here.

    There just may be.

    It’s called commuter rail.

    More specifically, the “Brain Train.”

    Morsberger has brought together a collection of visionaries and public officials from various local governments to propose that the state build a commuter train from downtown Atlanta to Athens.

    They call it the “Brain Train” because it would link some 10 college and university campuses along its 68-mile route.

    That alone is an exciting prospect: Morsberger sits on the edge of his chair as he talks about the synergies created by a commuter rail passing by all those colleges. The students going back and forth. The professors able to teach at more than one facility. The increased institutional cooperation and coordination that might result. The increased access to a wider area of students for all the schools.

    It’s not just Morsberger who’s excited, either. Students at several of the schools have formed “Brain Train” clubs to push the project along.

    For good reason, too: The thousands of car wrecks along commuter routes every year involve a lot of students, some of whom die.

    On a more positive note, Morsberger says some commuter rail cars in the country feature their own classes and meetings of commuters who see each other every day.

    But just as important is the potential of the Brain Train to lighten the load for everyone on Georgia highways. Morsberger’s group estimates 10,000 commuters would be riding rails instead of clogging roads.

    That’s not an inconsequential number, Morsberger notes, considering that Atlanta has the fourth-worst commute in the country, soon to be second-worst.

    Commuter rail may sound pie-in-the-sky, but it’s not. There are models to follow in Virginia/D.C. and Florida; the Brain Train could run parallel to CSX tracks already in place; and Morsberger’s group says the cost of building it would be one-third that of a new lane of highway: $5.32 million a mile for rail versus $18.2 million for highway, in 2005 dollars.

    Getting the right-of-way also should be easier along the existing rail line than it would be for a new highway.

    The Brain Train’s total cost of $380 million – admittedly several years old now – would likely be an 80-20 federal-state match, Morsberger says.

    He and others spoke Thursday before the state House Appropriations Subcommittee on Economic Development, which seemed encouraging. Morsberger is asking for $10 million for planning and site acquisition for many of the 12 stations to be served by the line. Several existing stations would also be used. His hope is to begin construction in 2009 and get the trains rolling by 2011.

    In one-third the time of building a highway, he says.

    Ultimately, commuter rail also could link to Augusta, providing more educational and economic development synergies to cross the state back and forth.

    Remember, too, that gridlock in Atlanta is not just an Atlanta problem. It affects any of us who visit the capital city – and it may be warding off businesses that don’t want to subject their employees to road rage on the way to work.

    Georgians are all in this together.

    Transportation should be a top priority in the Statehouse. When it comes to commuter rail, we’re behind the curve.

    Let’s get back on track.

    From the Sunday, February 04, 2007 edition of the Augusta Chronicle

  2. Overincorporated Fulton says:

    Republicans make rail expansion a partisan issue. However, I can’t for the dickens explain why. I agree: it’s a win-win.

    Thirty years of history in Georgia prove that road-building is not the answer to easing congestion. Every time you build a road, more people move to the areas around that road. It’s that simple. You facilitate sprawl and long, costly, traffic-choked commutes by reducing the opportunity cost of living far away from where you work. Read that closely, Rep. Davis.

    Yes, the ATL-MCN rail project seems to have some problems. It needs to be faster, and it needs more broad-based public support like the Brain Train already has. Unfortunately, we have to deal with ideological zealots like Steve Davis, who’d rather kill the project than work through the problems and the so-called Reason foundation, which supports “solutions” that have “worked” (read: are underway) in other places. I really understand and appreciate partisan differences on issues where there is a clear reason one party wants to stand in the way. On this one, I just don’t get it.

  3. Zealot? What ideological group do you think I belong too?

    The truth and the ability of taxpayers to know the facts before THEY decide how much they want to pay for YOU to ride a train.

    The truth is people like Morseberger dont want you to know the truth! Do you really think he is looking out for your best interest? He owns property in Lawrenceville and even in Atlanta next to the proposed MMPT station that he wants to develop into transit villages. Nothing more and nothing less. He could care less how much it costs the State or how much it cost you.

    This project will not help congestion at all. It will put more NEW cars ON the roads then it will take EXISTING cars OFF the road. It will burden all other means of infrastructure by means of directing new tax bases toward rail subsidies even at the local level.

    Connecting these colleges with a “commuter rail” accomplishes nothing. Commuter rail lines go one way in the morning and one way at night, thats why they call it a “commuter” line. This is nothing more than a marketing tool, to ensight emotions not reality.

    $380 million would be the cost if they used the current CSX lines. It will be more than 3 times that for new lines!

  4. Rep Davis,

    Thanks for enlightening is on “the truth” about Mr, Mossberger . . . . Whose interests are YOU representing, by the way? How has your experience as a realtor prepared you to speak with such authority about what a transit line will or will not do?

    Hey, I love that HR 25 bill of yours though . . . . and HR 169 was a real weighty piece of legislation!

  5. jaybird says:

    Most road costs in the US are paid for by the gasoline tax, so I don’t see how roads are subsidized.

    Georgia currently is 4th to last in investing in roadways on a per capita basis. This is probably the reason we are 4th worst in congestion.

    Only one city in the US has more than 10 percent of its trips by transit and that is NY. All other cities have less than 10 percent no matter how good the transit system is.

    Atlanta is one of the least dense major cities in the US. Only 1 in 20 workers commute from the suburbs to downtown. This is the market for commuter rail and MARTA extensions.

    Recently transportation studies show that truck traffic is the greatest contributer to congestion in the Atlanta region. The Atlanta Regional Commission’s own studies indicate that a ntetwork of Truck Only Lanes would provide the greatest congestion relief.

    The other benefit of Truck Only Lanes is that they can be used for Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), which is a much lower cost option to rail. A network of Express Buses using the Truck Only Lanes would be much cheaper and provide as much benefit as a rail line extension that has been proposed.

    In addition there are several proposals to allow private companies to build/operate these lanes. This would eliminate or reduce the cost of building these lanes to the general public.

    Commuter rail is dead until the local governments start subsidizing the operating costs. We here in Fulton County currently pay one percent sales tax to MARTA. It is time for others to step up to plate.

  6. Steve,

    Your HD109 Henry County is the biggest log jam of traffic in Georgia. Georgia could use three years of Henry County’s Impact Fees to pay for the rail line and your constituents could be home in time for dinner and the rest of us could spend less time forcibly admiring the flag at Eagle’s Landing.

    Please study Intelligent Urban Design and get back with us next year. And remind Cecil Staton that Georgians would have more time to read his books on trains.

    Victor Jones
    Macon, Georgia

    http://www.macon.com/mld/telegraph/16623953.htm
    State Rep. Steve Davis, one of the state’s most vocal rail opponents, said the report confirms what he’s been saying for two years. He has filed legislation that would abolish the Georgia Rail Passenger Authority, which has been planning rail projects.

    The Macon line is “deader than dead,” he said.

    Davis represents Henry County, where traffic woes are a daily part of life for residents and commuters headed through the county along I-75.

    But passenger rail, Davis said, will make things worse. It will foster more dense development along the rail lines, and many of those people won’t use the trains, he said.

    Rail proponents dispute that, but Davis is pushing for wider roads and truck-only toll lanes as answers for congestion.
    ==============================
    http://www.legis.state.ga.us/legis/2007_08/house/07alpha.html

    Contact Representative Davisat the Capitol…
    Suite 601 Coverdell Legislative Office Building
    Atlanta, GA 30334
    404-656-0254
    [email protected]

    When not fulfilling his law-making duties under the Gold Dome, Representative Davis enjoys a career as a realtor.
    =============

  7. Erick says:

    SpaceyG, the reason the Macon rail system is dead is because they intended it to go into a less than ideal train station in downtown Macon, away from the majority of business travelers who would use it.

    They designed it so it would take twice as long to get to Atlanta as getting in your car and going up there.

    The initial plans ruled out wifi for business travelers and proposed a schedule that wasn’t entirely commuter friendly.

  8. I represent the taxpayers, thank you.

    Urban design? That about sums that up! Maybe if the ARC stopped urbanizing the region our congestion wouldnt be so bad.

    VGI, is an impact fee a tax? What kind of impact fee should the county charge? Do you think we are not already collecting impact fees?

  9. Candlepark,

    Check the link on your name it goes to lohanfreestyle. Lets remind the Cousin Sonny to NOT appoint Erick to set up the time table Rail Line links .

    Thanks for the heads up on Steve Davis’ HR 25 and 169, i think they are too important not to post here. I’m sure they were widely applauded by the constituents of and peers on the Transportation, Insurance, State Institutions & Property and Children & Youth Committees that he serves on… Such global enroads and ensights this young man is paving for us!

    HR169
    A RESOLUTION commending the energy relief efforts of President George W. Bush, the United States Congress, and the Georgia General Assembly; and for other purposes.

    HR25
    A RESOLUTION commending Ryan Scott Davis on the occasion of his eighteenth birthday; and for other purposes.

    p.s. Steve, last time i checked, Henry County was knocking down about 130 Million per year in impact fees. We tried to get the idea floated in Bibb County but our Commissioners don’t have the round earth sails that yours in Henry County do.

  10. Jason Pye says:

    Legislators, both Republican and Democrat, propose resolutions honoring or commending individuals or entities all the time. Why is this a big deal?

  11. Decaturguy says:

    “He owns property in Lawrenceville and even in Atlanta next to the proposed MMPT station that he wants to develop into transit villages.”

    Exactly. That is the way to reduce congestion, by incorporating housing and business around transit. So what if he intends to make a profit off of it, Rep. Davis? Don’t you think that there are certain homebuilders that have a vested interest in building more roads?

    What sort of a Socialist are you?

  12. Flatpickpaul says:

    Once AGAIN – Mr. Davis requires me to post some facts on commuter rail (see below). Additionally, I have learned about a student poll at UGA that indicates 80% of almost 300 undergraduate respondents surveyed said they would use the Brain Train to get to Atlanta.

    A leading researcher at Emory University has said that traffic congestion is impeding his research on type 1 diabetes. He said a commuter rail connection between Atlanta and Athens would accelerate the pace of discovery for this work. It’s entirely possible that we could see “Commuter Rail Link Helps Cure Type 1 Diabetes.”

    More data: the GDOT 2006 fact sheet on the Atlanta to Athens line estimates commuter rail in the corridor would remove 8,000 trips per day at peak period. Additionally, more than 28,000 employees work in the Clifton Corridor alone, and the same corridor endures more than 46,000 cars daily through intersections already at or near failure during peak times.

    Even more data:
     Public Support – Polling from June 2006 indicates voter support for the Brain Train in Gwinnett, Barrow, Oconee and Athens-Clarke counties exceeds 70 percent.
     The Virginia Railway Express’ average daily ridership has exceeded 28,000 in less than nine years in service.
     Capacity and Cost – Georgia Rail Consultants project this plan will provide an equivalent capacity of adding ½ to ¾ traffic lanes. The Brain Train would cost approximately $330 million less than the equivalent capacity in new highways and divert 1,800,000 drivers from the corridor’s roads by 2025. According to the ARC’s approved Transportation Improvement Plan, the average cost per lane mile of improving Interstate Highways in Metro Atlanta is $18.19 million. One mile of commuter rail track – which can operate in both AM and PM directions – costs $5.32 million.
     AAA estimates the average cost to operate a private automobile at 52.2 cents per mile – a very conservative estimate. A round trip commute from Lawrenceville to Atlanta and back (64 miles) costs $33.41.
     Safety – A July 1, 2005 interim analysis of push-pull operations performed by the Federal Railroad Administrations shoed that a person riding a push-pull commuter train is 25 times safer than a person riding in an automobile.
     Economic Development – A 1999 Texas case study (Miller, Robison & Lahr) found that within five years of the opening of Dallas’ new commuter rail line, private businesses invested over $1 billion near the line’s rail stations. The same study found that for each 1% of regional travel shifted from automobile to public transit increases regional income by $2.9 million, resulting in 226 additional regional jobs.

  13. Dear Steve,

    The Southern trend, Rapid Rail and Gonzo are your typical friends.

    http://www.sfrta.fl.gov/press.html#press16

    SFRTA Reports Record-Breaking Ridership On Tri-Rail In 2006

    The South Florida Regional Transportation Authority today announced that, for the first time in its history, Tri-Rail carried more than three-million passengers in a single calendar year. The total passenger count for 2006 was 3,177,573. The number represents a 21.2 percent growth over last year’s ridership of 2,619,693.

    I’ve invited some rapid rail experts to enter into the RR debate.

    The first expert offered this solution:

    “The real solution for rail from Atlanta to Macon: build a light rail system down the center of I-75. This is what is being discussed for I-70 into the mountains from Denver in Colorado. Light rail should be able to handle grades, which freight rail cannot. Intermediate stations can be raised and accessed as overpasses. ”

    Georgia Improper Resolution1-GR1: You are to be commended for entering into the public debate, it’s the trend of our enlightened future.

    VictoratGaImproper

  14. grabbingsand says:

    Rep. Davis, good to see you participating.

    But I must point out …

    Commuter rail lines go one way in the morning and one way at night, thats why they call it a “commuter” line.

    This is not always the case. The schedule of a transit system varies by location. In Vancouver, your in-at-morning/out-at-evening schedule is in effect. But the New Jersey Transit system operates all day (6am to midnight), round trip, station to station.

    Commuter rail differs from systems like MARTA in that the trains operate on heavy rail instead of light rail. Also, they are typically bidirectional.

    I’ve no issue with your wish to know the mind of your electorate before spending money, but please make the effort to complete your research before making such sweeping and dismissive generalizations. Far too many of your fellow Congressmen do that already and about more than just transportation.

  15. TM2000 says:

    Also Erick, if you want to further your light rail research you ought to use Salt Lake City as an example, their system has been working great and has received huge voter support.

  16. Jason Pye says:

    Blah, blah, blah…Salt Lake City. It’s still in the red by $35 million and ridership isn’t hitting the mark that bus transit was getting before it was implemented.

    We are talking about the Atlanta-Macon line.

  17. grabbingsand says:

    The Atlanta-Lovejoy line will make morning and evening trips only.

    Fair enough. But still, that is referring to one particular line and the proposed schedule thereof, not all commuter rail lines.

  18. TM2000 says:

    Erick before anybody here tells you that the Georgia roads are covered by the fuel tax know that several localities have raised their sales taxes to fund road improvements and also that the funding for Georgai highway patrol comes out of the general fund and that the GA constitution forbids that the fuel tax fund highway patrol. Also the biggest subsidy that the driver receives is the price we pay for all of the car pollution.

  19. TM2000 says:

    Also Erick, on terms of light rail and other issues, you will find reports on either side that claim to have the facts and both groups get a chance to make their case, but here is a fact that no report can change, 2006 was a record year of victories for transit at the ballot, which tells me that the voters know which group has the real facts.

  20. TM2000 says:

    Page cannot be found it says. Why do you use it to proove a point if you are not an advocate of it? And if you are not an advocate of it and they are then what is your solution?

  21. Jason Pye says:

    The whole link didn’t turn into a hyperlink…so here it is.

    Because it shows that you are getting hyped over something that isn’t keeping up with population growth or the previous mode of public transportation.

    My solution is to put money into the mode of transportation that 95+% of commuters use, which is roads.

  22. TM2000 says:

    Population growth, is something that is going to slow once we get illegal immigration under control. We are a country with a low birth rate most of our growth is immigration.

  23. grabbingsand says:

    I know this is only going to get me in trouble, but the “About” page at the American Dream Coalition seems to dilute any possibility that the documents they offer are exactly unbiased toward rail. Their three guiding principles are Home Ownership, (Economic) Freedom and Mobility (via Automobiles). It is only natural (and perfectly within their rights) that any information they provide is going to be anti-rail.

    It’s like asking PETA to give a fair accounting of the pros and cons of fashionable animal fur.

  24. Jason Pye says:

    That’s right, they aren’t advocates of rail. They are advocates of taxpayers and eliminating government waste, as well as proposing free-market solutions to our problems.

  25. TM2000 says:

    Jason if you were to divert the money towards the roads how much of it would you divert towards solving the pollution problems?

  26. TM2000 says:

    Oh yeah? And why is it not up to the government to protect the environment?
    Show me where the private sector has successfully done this. Do you not see it as fair that the user fees on fuel also go towards pollution solutions?

    Do you really think it’s up to the private sector or do you just not care?

  27. TM2000 says:

    The other organizations are advocates of reducing pollution and wasted fuel and the beautiful thing is that more taxpayers and voters are supporting the transit folks and not the American dream folks.

  28. Jason Pye says:

    We’ve had this conversation before. Government is the worst polluter in the country, not the private sector.

    The “fees” (taxes) for fuel needs to go to roads and roads only. Let the market take care of which gas and oil companies are promoting clean fuel.

  29. Jason Pye says:

    That’s not a beautiful thing. The voters are being tricked into a big government monopoly and they are footing the bill and then some.

    If the taxpayers had every bit of information and real debate was had over the cost and real projections on ridership, I don’t believe they’d approve it.

  30. TM2000 says:

    And you don’t think that the American Dream coalition has had the opportunity to present all the facts?
    The government is the reason we had things like the endangered species act, which saved our national bird.

  31. Decaturguy says:

    More road capacity is never the answer. That is really flushing transportation money down the toilet. Every single time road capacity is increased, population in that area increases even more, so that by the time the road capacity is increased, it is already congested.

    Why do you want to continue to make the same mistake time and time again? Why do you want to waste the taxpayers money?

  32. Jason Pye says:

    I don’t see it as wasting taxpayer money because we are investing in what the overwhelming majority of people use.

    The only purpose of government is to protect rights, not create entitlements and waste taxpayer money, which is exactly what you are doing when you spend money on something a very small percentage of people will use.

  33. Jason Pye says:

    No, they haven’t. Taxpayer associations and advocacy organizations are almost always shut out of the equation and debate. I’ve seen it here in Henry County and I’ve read about it in other places.

  34. TM2000 says:

    I’d like to see your proof of your last statement Jason. I’ve seen plenty of Davis’s letters published. He has had a say. He even went to the Brain Train forum.
    And even in places where it’s a small percentage it’s a growing percentage.

  35. TM2000 says:

    It’s not a waste of money when you invest in something that the majority of voters approved and studies have shown that it has made a dent in congestion and pollution.

  36. TM2000 says:

    And as I said, it will begin to grow even faster once we get our population growth (immigration) under control.

  37. Jason Pye says:

    Steve was vilified and ridiculed at that forum.

    There was a forum here in Henry County, which I was at, hosted by the local Chamber. The moderators of the “forum” literally cut people off in mid sentence when they talked about market answers or the failures of transit.

    Also, the local Chamber here opposes a voter referendum on the rail, despite overwhelming support for one.

    The majority can be wrong. You seem to think that just the because the majority supports something then it’s some how magically good. Sorry, pal. It doesn’t work that way.

  38. TM2000 says:

    Guess what, the road lobby opposes letting the voters decide on a constitutional amendment.
    And I was at the forum, he got a chance to speak, he was not booed until he was done speaking.
    And having not been at the forum you were at I cannot know for certain that you are telling the truth.
    And just because the majority believes in something that you don’t, doesn’t mean that they are wrong. You seem to think that whenever somebody disagrees with you that it’s somehow magically wrong. Sorry pal it doesn’t work that way either.

  39. Jason Pye says:

    And I was at the forum, he got a chance to speak, he was not booed until he was done speaking.

    The same applies to you then.

    When it’s taxpayer money at stake and they are using it for wreckless purposes, yes…they are wrong. Especially if it’s something I’m going to be forced to pay for that I won’t use.

  40. TM2000 says:

    No doubt that the DOD pollutes, but the DOD is also one of the most important branches of government. If they were to use a nuclear strike in retaliation the environmental effects would be devastating, but for the sake of national security, there is a good chance that they would have no other choise.
    Not everybody uses the public schools either but their existence does benefit everyone.
    If you don’t believe me then ask somebody else who was at the forum.

  41. TM2000 says:

    Also you speak about majority, you seem to think that because the majority use roads that it’s right and then you say that majority is not always right.

  42. joe says:

    It’s not a waste of money when you invest in something that the majority of voters approved and studies have shown that it has made a dent in congestion and pollution.

    TM2000, You never did respond to the GAO report (other than to say you didn’t know about the GAO) from almost 2 weeks ago. Have you studied enough yet to know that intercity rail is a waste of money?

    http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d07382r.pdf

  43. TM2000 says:

    What pages of this report do I need to concentrate on? Does it focus on anything besides Amtrak?
    Amtrak is not the same thing as suburban commuter rail.

  44. Jason Pye says:

    Not everybody uses the public schools either but their existence does benefit everyone.

    That’s very debatable.

    If you don’t believe me then ask somebody else who was at the forum.

    If you don’t believe me then ask somebody else who was at the forum.

    Also you speak about majority, you seem to think that because the majority use roads that it’s right and then you say that majority is not always right.

    Of course they’re right. Virtually every commuter uses roads, even the ones getting to your precious rail stations. The people want their tax dollars spent for the mode of transportation used the overwhelming amount of the time…which is roads.

    I’m gonna take a break from this thread now. I’ve said my peace.

  45. TM2000 says:

    Yeah. And the same people who voted for rail also used roads, I am for roads and for rail. People benefit from the existence of both.
    Give me the names of some other people who were at the forum.

  46. TM2000 says:

    OK, he is also one you can ask about being at the Brain Train forum. He got a chance to say what he wanted to say.

  47. Josh D Ondich says:

    Rep Davis,
    the majority of our state senators and house members from Gwinnett including former County Commission Chairmen Wayne Hill support the Brain Train, so does Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle

  48. TM2000 says:

    And pork is such a derrogated term, many of these pork projects are great things. I am pretty sure that schools and parks can fall into the same category.

  49. decaturdude75 says:

    maybe theres some point to what Steve Davis says. Someone wants to build transit villages…is that a bad thing?

    Candler Park and Inman park, two of Atlanta’s hot spots, were built around the street car. The street car was funded by the owner of the land who built all these great bungalows that everyone wants now because they are ITP and are in locations where you dont have to sit in suburbian hell traffic everyday to get to work.

    Since I left my car at the MARTA station over 2 years ago (only a half mile from my house) I enjoy sitting back most days, listening to music, reading a book, and closing my eyes and NOT worrying about getting stuck in horrible traffic behind atlantas HORRIBLY undefensive drivers.

    maybe if someone were to go with me for a week and see my daily work and home schedule they would realize that commuter rail is worth the investment; many employers have bought into MARTAS employee plan; i only pay $24/month for a monthly pass and my company would pay up to 50% of whatever transit option I took PRETAX…

    people will ride if we make it convenient for them. You guys go on and on about density; if 7 million people are really expected in metro atl in the next 5 years, dont you THINK that density is going to have to increase? maybe if someone would study where these 7 million people will be living we could come up with a plan to help that problem (TRANSIT) and continue to fix the highway infrastructure that is in need of work but the reality is, the work on the highways will NOT be sufficient enough to fix the new 7 million peoples demands. WE NEED MORE THAN ONE SOLUTION; better MARTA solutions, commuter rail and highways…ALL of it….geez ,is that so complicated to understand?

  50. Decaturguy says:

    “waste taxpayer money, which is exactly what you are doing when you spend money on something a very small percentage of people will use.”

    If true, then the most of the state built roads in Georgia should have never been built because only a minority of people use those roads.

  51. Overincorporated Fulton says:

    The market will take care of Steve Davis. Maybe not soon, but one day.

    Henry County, as fast as it’s growing, won’t stand for stoneage transit solutions forever. People are missing too much time with their kids.

    PS – The ARC doesn’t urbanize Atlanta and its suburbs. People who move here do. What kind of Republican wants to stop growth, anyways?

  52. bird says:

    It is interesting you mention Candler Park and Inman Park. You can still see the original trolley tracks peaking through the pavement in places in those areas. Atlanta had one of the best trolley systems in the country, until Ford Motors and Firestone bought the trolley system. This is painstakingly documented. Then, they consistently downgraded the facilities until it was unusable, and they closed the system. Everyone now drives cars–it seems that Toyota should pay Ford back for their early investment. 🙂

    Jason, you make this into a big government vs. little goverment issue, but that is not the case. This is largely about the power of the road lobby. The government spends way to much money on roads, and it only exacerbates the problem of traffic. As Speaker Richardson pointed out, we could have 16 lanes to Gwinnett and they would all be full. And though he didn’t mean to advocate for transit alternatives, he did. More lanes means more cars as housing continues to spring up further away based on individuals using roads to get to their jobs. Other alternatives would reduce traffic and allow workers to live in other areas.

    I work downtown. Some people I work with live in Woodstock, Suwanee, etc. Some commute 1 to 1.5 hours each way every day. Mayor Franklin’s vision is to not waste Atlanta’s resources on transit. Let people sit in traffic so that they will want to move intown. That is the trend, and many people in their 20s and 30s are moving to Atlanta. I have a home in Grant Park (near downtown). So, don’t have transit, my home prices will continue to increase. Build 18 lanes, and we’ll still have the same traffic.

    But Jason, your opposition to transit is so fierce, it seems to certainly be an irrational bias. If you are into small government that doesn’t waste taxpayer’s money–take on the road lobby.

  53. formandfile says:

    Before anyone else carps about the motor fuel tax covering the costs of highways, do a bit of homework:
    http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/ohim/hs00/pdf/hf10.pdf

    On a good year, fuel tax revenue makes up about 60% of the budget. Where does the rest come from? Property taxes and general funds appropriations mostly, with only 5% coming from tolls, which are the most direct end user fees. That number needs to change in light of the severe budget shortfalls for all transportation projects in the state. Never mind about the fact that Mexico’s Cantarell oil field (the world’s second largest and also one of the larger reasons NAFTA was penned) is in production decline, along with the North Sea, Finland, and most likely Saudi Arabia. Expensive oil makes highway maintenance and end usage rather difficult.

    Anyway, if we are going to hold rail projects in this state to fund their own operations entirely, then we need to do the same with highways as well, through a next generation tolling system. Not lexus lanes or HOT/HOV lanes, but all lanes. Economist Anthony Downs has thoroughly explored using the pricing mechanism to control peak congestion times, but applying the same market forces to Atlanta region highways can also fund maintenance, upkeep and improvements…without reaching into the general funds or property/income/sales taxes of non-drivers.

  54. SpaceyG says:

    If rail is so dead, then why are people so AMAZINGLY interested in the topic???? I mean 76 comments?! That’s got to be some kinda record here, eh Erick?

  55. decaturdude75 says:

    alot of people never realize that transit can be a good experience; it can be safe it can be enjoyable
    is it always? no? is driving safe and fun always? hell no….

    3 years ago i was one of the highway people; marta was nothing to me. then i saw some people trying it; then i realized it was CHEAPER for me to get around. I can adjust my schedule around not driving; everyone hates traffic so much they can empathize with someone who doesnt want to drive anymore!

    the road builders sure are lining all the Republicans pockets and mouths with the words to say to get people disinterested in transit but if rail advocates continue to tell THE TRUTH then more people will try and MORE people will give up their daily drives….
    not all. i cant give mine up everyday; i drive to work every Wednesday; and I hate it…i really hate it but due to our systems inflexibility to go from one place to another in a short time very efficiently i have to drive.

    yet many many people go to work and straight home; there are Many that do and TRANSIT would work for them at least 2 or 3 days a week
    MANY people avoid Fridays; MARTAS always packed on Fridays because everyone knows the traffic is way worse on Fridays due to all the foreigners driving through.

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