Get ready for the ‘Brain Train Rally’

Supporters of the ‘Brain Train,’ undeterred by the lack of support for a rail line to Macon will rally at the Capitol tomorrow to show their love for the proposed Atlanta to Athens passenger rail system:

The Georgia Brain Train Group, a coalition of community and business leaders, released several polls last year showing strong support for the line from people who live in the counties along the planned route.

But Wednesday will mark the first time the project’s supporters have gathered en masse to make their feelings known.

“The governor doesn’t believe we have any support to make this happen,’’ said Emory Morsberger, the group’s chairman and a Gwinnett County developer. “We want to show him how much support there is.’’

Rep. Steve Davis is looking for opponents to “balance the “Brain” Train folks.”

Let’s just hope it stays peaceful. We don’t want any hear about any trouble between the pro-rail and anti-rail forces.

38 comments

  1. John Galt says:

    Didn’t anyone see the movie Singles? We’ve been burned by this train business before. People love their cars.

  2. Jason Pye says:

    How is Morseberger a capitalist? He is using government intervention to benefit himself. That is the opposite of capitalism.

    Capitalism is the lack of government intervention (free markets).

    I’ve become good friends with Rep. Davis over the last three years. I worked against him in 2004 when he was running for office and I even went off on the guy at a debate just before the election. But I’ve seen how hard he works and the time he puts into his job as a state representative.

    Rep. Davis is one of the good guys at the Capitol. I know you people hate him because he doesn’t support your precious rail, but he is doing what is best for the taxpayers and I support that.

    Social issues aside, I don’t disagree with one thing he’s done since he’s been in Atlanta.

  3. Decaturguy says:

    And Rep. Davis is not using government intervention to benefit himself? Pay for your damn roads to exurbia with your own money then, don’t use mine.

  4. Rusty says:

    Jason,
    I know he’s your buddy, but are you denying that Rep. Davis will profit from encouraging road construction over mixed-use development? That’s his job, so he doesn’t have any claim to a position as an objective advocate or being a “good guy,” whatever that means.

    And really, the “you people” stuff paints you as a cliched angry white dude from the suburbs. I know you’re smarter than that.

  5. Jason Pye says:

    The reasoning for opposition is the fiscal accountability to the taxpayers. That has been the reason for opposition since day one. I know that for a fact.

    Pay for your damn roads to exurbia with your own money then, don’t use mine.
    But you want to use my money for a damn rail line? That makes a lot sense. That is just brilliant reasoning.

    And really, the “you people” stuff paints you as a cliched angry white dude from the suburbs.
    It’s the internet. I can’t help if people read something totally different than what it is intended to be.

  6. Rusty says:

    Jason,
    Where’s the fiscal accountability to taxpayers for all the roads that have been built? Is GDOT paying for itself? If so, that’s great news. We won’t need to set aside any money in the budget anymore.

  7. Rusty says:

    Oh, and unless you say otherwise, I’ll take your lack of response to my question to mean that you’re not denying Rep. Davis will personally profit from the type of development he’s advocating.

  8. Decaturguy says:

    But you want to use my money for a damn rail line? That makes a lot sense. That is just brilliant reasoning.

    Jason, I’m just using sarcasm to demonstrate your hypocrisy. Of course I should have to pay for roads that I don’t use, just like you should have to pay for transit in urban areas. I will never use commuter rail, because I work 5 minutes from my house, but people who live in Gwinnett County and work in the city, for example, will, and their use will get cars off of the road, and benfit the region and state.

    I have been on 2 MARTA trains already today, Jason, and let me tell you, they were packed. People will use transit if they are given the option.

    But continuing the status quo benefits the developers and sellers of suburban style sprawl delopments, which Rep. Davis specializes in.

    Speaking of “fiscal responsiblity,” how does doing the same thing over and over again, i.e., spending billions and billions of dollars on new roads, but never solving the traffic problem because it just encourages more development, and thus more car trips, equal “fiscal responsibility?”

  9. Decaturguy says:

    More enlightenment from the likes of Rep. Steve Davis:

    Today is the 17th legislative day of the session. It is called Family Day so that legislators can bring their wifes and kids up for the day and show our family atmosphere. However I do not bring my family due to the spectacle presented by the fringe groups in front of our children. You have Labor Unions, “Working Families” wanting minimum wage increases, marches for racial equality, and the worst is GSLBT groups that try to prove they are families too(by exposing our young children to them kissing and holding hands). I will just say that I am very passionate about the issues but I did not get into politics to expose my children to adult issues. It is a shame that these groups try to exploit this event the way they do.

    http://steve-davis.org/blog/?p=167

  10. Know Nothing says:

    A train from Atlanta to Athens would make it alot easier for me to get cheaper drinks in bars. I’m all for it.

  11. Rusty says:

    Marches for racial equality. What a terrible thing for a child to see!

    Jason,
    I know he’s your friend and you think he’s a swell fella, but from where I’m sitting he looks like a corrupt bigot who’s profiting from his office.

  12. StevePerkins says:

    Interesting that the “pep rally” is being organized downtown by business interests, rather than in Gwinnett by the commuters who would supposedly be using (and definitely be financing) the project.

    Also, unless my facts are incorrect, Rep. Davis is a realtor. He therefore “stands to profit” from whichever proposals would maximize growth of the middle-class which purchases real estate. Speaking as a middle-class homeowner, you guys really aren’t doing yourselves any favors by arguing that rail is NOT the proposal best geared toward that interest.

  13. Decaturguy says:

    Rep. Davis is a realtor. He therefore “stands to profit” from whichever proposals would maximize growth of the middle-class which purchases real estate.

    I think it would be a fair bet that given his opposition, Rep. Davis will not be selling any of Morsberger’s developments.

    Speaking as a middle-class homeowner, you guys really aren’t doing yourselves any favors by arguing that rail is NOT the proposal best geared toward that interest.

    Who is making that argument?

  14. Decaturguy says:

    It seems to me that based on his comments, Rep. Davis believes that middle class workers who want to participate in their representative government are a “fringe group.” I guess, according to Rep. Davis, that should be left to paid lobbyists.

  15. Jason Pye says:

    Oh, and unless you say otherwise, I’ll take your lack of response to my question to mean that you’re not denying Rep. Davis will personally profit from the type of development he’s advocating.

    I don’t believe it has ever crossed his mind. As I said before it has been about accountability to the taxpayers.

    He could potentially benefit from Kelo type takings (eminent domain), where a private developer acquires privately owned property for upscale housing, retail or commercial development.

    As you know there has been an issue with that here in Henry County. Davis had been one of the legislators that has been working against the City of Stockbridge to fight these types of takings. He has backed the Meeks family since the beginning.

  16. Jason Pye says:

    Speaking of “fiscal responsiblity,” how does doing the same thing over and over again, i.e., spending billions and billions of dollars on new roads, but never solving the traffic problem because it just encourages more development, and thus more car trips, equal “fiscal responsibility?”

    I’d like to see private development of roads.

    I’d like to see rail (I’m not against the concept), but not taxpayer subsidized rail. It’s been tried before here in Georgia and it failed.

  17. Decaturguy says:

    You take away public funding for roads, and I will agree to take public funding of transit off the table. But until then, transit needs to be on equal footing with roads.

  18. Rusty says:

    As I said before it has been about accountability to the taxpayers.

    I don’t believe that for a second when the same “accountability” standard isn’t also applied to road building.

  19. Flatpickpaul says:

    Mr. Galt – if American’s love their cars so much, how then do you explain the more than 1.6 million riders per week and 82 million passenger trips per year for Chicago’s METRA (an effective comparable to the need to connect suburbs and exurbs with centers of business)
    (source Suburban Emergency Management Project online)

  20. Decaturguy says:

    On MARTA, a much smaller system than Chicago, there are over 450,000 weekday daily riders and over 69 million riders per year.

    Just think if it was actually more comprehensive and didn’t just serve 2 counties!

  21. Flatpickpaul says:

    Decaturguy, I hear ya and I agree, I’m just trying to keep this apples-to-apples insofar as ‘commuter rail’ is concerned. Truly, though, we need every ounce of capacity we can squeeze out of our system quickly. The Brain Train, and commuter rail along existing rights of way, do this.

  22. Amber says:

    I’d like to see rail (I’m not against the concept), but not taxpayer subsidized rail. It’s been tried before here in Georgia and it failed.

    When?

  23. TM2000 says:

    Mr. Galt you need not only look at places like Salt Lake City, Dallas, Denver, and Houston, where transit has been a big win with the voters and where ridership passed expectations.

  24. TM2000 says:

    Oh I was far from disappointed when I saw the results for transit of the 06 election, it’s starting a trend on which many are hopping aboad and it will inevitably make it this way. Successes nationwide are getting the attention of many citizens and political leaders despite the efforts made by the anti-rail folks.

  25. Now the arguement is not whether or not that rail is worth it, but whether or not I will personally benefit from it? You have got to be kidding. FYI. I would benefit much more personally if I piggybacked the taxpayers money and worked the rail corridor properties!

    Get on point people. Its about taxpayer funds. The rail cost too much money and serves too little people(1/2 of 1%). It will increase population growth rates and increase the burden of infrastructure needs in this state.

    The facts are the facts!

  26. Rusty says:

    Rep. Davis,
    The FACT is that the types of developments you sell will become easier to sell when you can kill off rail projects and get more roads built. Explain to everyone here how you’re not using your office to force the competition (such as Morsberger) out.

  27. Decaturguy says:

    It will increase population growth rates and increase the burden of infrastructure needs in this state.

    The only way rail could increase population growth would be because it has been a success because the market is demanding alternatives to status quo highway based development.

    I’m glad you acknowledge that.

  28. Decaturguy says:

    Now the arguement is not whether or not that rail is worth it, but whether or not I will personally benefit from it?

    Rep. Davis, you are the one who argued that one reason the legislature should ignore the overwelming support for commuter rail from Atlanta to Athens was because Morsberger stood to profit from it. So, all if fair game.

  29. jaybird says:

    One thing to note about the road versus transit subsidies. In New York City (the only city in the US to have over 10 percent of all trips by transit), tolls on the bridges and tunnels actually subsidize the transit system.

    Both roads and transit require subsidies under the current funding systems. Why not cut off subsidies for both. Raise the gas tax and impose tolls on freeways (variable pricing by congestion levels) to fully pay for the roads. Then make transit pay its full operating costs.

    My guess is that you will see more efficient use of the roadways (people shifting to non peak times, more use of carpooling and telecommuting) and a reduction in actual transit use as the user has to pay at least twice what they are paying today.

  30. rugby_fan says:

    Rep. Davis;

    It is clear that you are reading this blog so I would like an answer to this question. (As a citizen of Georgia, I would hope that you honor this request).

    You say “[rail] will increase population growth rates and increase the burden of infrastructure needs in this state”.

    Am I to infer that you do not wish for the great state of Georgia to grow and become better? Is it your desire for Georgia to stagnate and not improve?

    Because that statement seems to suggest as much.

  31. Harry says:

    This rail issue is a non-starter with voters, soon as they realize their tax dollars are in play. The poll taken in Gwinnett was bogus as it was based on an as-yet uninformed sample of the public. Rail supporters need to show your numbers – I mean ooooverall cost per passenger mile, but that ain’t gonna happen. Say goodnite.

  32. Nicki says:

    Just speaking as someone who has used transit in a variety of places. In general, transit is effective when it is comparable to other alternatives in terms of advantages and inconveniences. Right now MARTA is inconvenient — it only serves two counties, and those of us from the burbs have to drive almost to the center of Atlanta before any of the highways we use intersect with a station. Meanwhile gas is relatively cheap, us middle-class folks have cars, and the georgia DOT seems happy to build as many roads as they please while they completely refuse to take decisive action to make it possible for 3/5ths of the metro area to have reasonable access to a transit system.

    Transit has many advantages which I feel should be considered — it allows people of modest means far better access to opportunity (jobs, education, affordable housing), while it also provides the connected cities better opportunities for promotion and tourism-oriented activities. And in places like NJ and NY, it provides an invaluable service which reduces utilization of roads (which is important because at that population density sufficient roads cannot be built — Atlanta is headed there) while offering a safe, efficient commute to which a car does not compare. Seriously, get on any train going to upstate NY and you’ll see dozens of people reading the paper, working on their laptops, and otherwise doing business or simply enjoying the time spent on the commute — as opposed to taking their lives in their hands and giving their commuting time and energy to attempting to drive.

  33. Southerner says:

    I’d like to see rail (I’m not against the concept), but not taxpayer subsidized rail. It’s been tried before here in Georgia and it failed.

    Excuse me, but just when was this “tried and failed?” We have yet to turn a wheel of this thing and already we’re being told, by the likes of Speaker Richardson, that “rail has had it’s day in Georgia.” And just what day was that?

    Fact is, roads built with taxpayer dollars are what put private passenger rail out of business. If we’d built the roads (and airports) with private money like the railroads were built, then passenger trains not only would have survived but we’d have high-speed rail now.

    I cannot for the life of me understand how you self-styled conservatives are so against public dollars for rail when you are just thrilled to pour our money into roads.

    Actually, I do know, and all you have to do is look at the campaign contribution disclosures of folks like Mr. Davis and Mr. Richardson and Mr. Stanton to understand. The road builders, oil peddlers and car salesmen want the status quo, and the future economic vitality of Georgia be damned.

    Rep. Davis, if you really are interested in protecting the public dollar as you say, then you need to revise your legislation and require a vote on every expendiature of taxpayer dollars for ANY transportation project. That one I would support.

  34. StevePerkins says:

    Half the critics on this thread accuse Rep. Davis of profiteering from residential growth, and the other half accuse Rep. Davis of being anti-growth. Sheesh, guys… pick an angle and see it through. Don’t just throw random crap against the wall to see if any of it sticks.

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