The issue that may ultimately doom the statewide T-SPLOST is the clash between the need for regional planning and the ultimate self-interest of rational voters. An economically-rational voter might consider the benefits he or she will derive from their extra penny sales tax and decide it’s not worth the cost.
I think this is part of what underlies the widespread opposition of commenters on this blog, where any post mentioning TSPLOST becomes an opportunity for MARTA-bashing by OTPers, and for “we’ve been paying for it for 40 years now it’s your ” by the smarter and better-looking denizens of intown neighborhoods. I’ve been guilty of that last part myself, not just in regards to MARTA but also Grady Hospital.
In the 1990s, this dynamic played out along Johnson Ferry Road, where Cobb County residents pushed for widening in order to ameliorate rush-hour traffic but Fulton homeowners opposed the widening that threatened their front yards and homes.
With respect to the Atlanta metro area, we should understand that the benefits of a project are not necessarily constrained to its immediate area, but ramify outwards as bottlenecks are relieved, or demand sated elsewhere. OTPers who travel intown or across 285 benefit from the cars taken off the roads by MARTA, regardless of whether they ever step foot on bus or train. However, this type of benefit does not translate across larger regions, such as northwest Georgia where traffic hotspots tend to be local, population density lighter and the areas where transportation improvements receive more money are farther away.