Maria Saporta On State Failing MARTA

I’ll give you a taste. You click here and read the rest.

Let’s recap.

The State of Georgia provides virtually no operating dollars for MARTA, yet it continues to hold a heavy, self-righteous stick over the transit agency. Since Atlanta, Fulton and DeKalb pay the MARTA sales tax, they should be the entities calling the shots — not the state legislature.

The 50/50 restriction is just as flawed. No other major transit agency is forced to operate under such an inflexible rule. In recent years, MARTA has needed the flexibility to spend its sales tax revenues on operations. By not having that flexibility, MARTA will once again be facing more budget and service cuts and/or another fare increase.

Whose interest does that serve?

State legislators also are quick to criticize MARTA’s finances and say it needs to find other forms of revenue. But Rep. Davis killed the possibility of permitting MARTA to contract with local governments outside of Atlanta, Fulton and DeKalb to plan, implement and operate rail transit.

MARTA is the only transit agency in the state with any expertise in rail. But local governments who want to start providing rail in their jurisdictions can’t contract with MARTA, even in a competitive bidding situation.

And whose interest does that serve?

Question for MARTA’s advocates:  Your support is vital if T-SPLOST is to pass.  The state continues to show disdain for you and for MARTA.  Are you still planning on providing the heavy lifting for the T-SPLOST vote so that you can pay double what you currently pay for MARTA with no support, but only new restrictions, coming from the State?



  1. Cassandra says:

    Typically, I do NOT vote for ANY tax increase, no matter how well intentioned. That said, my demographic is not being lobbied by MAVEN.

    They seek 50,000 people who typically do not vote in primary elections and that may be tax neutral. They figure 50,000 votes will swing T-SPLOST.

    • greencracker says:

      Well I _am_ being lobbied by MAVEN.

      Apparently, according to a flier rec’d in the mail, children will bury their faces in their hands and cry if this doesn’t pass. (Does that count as “education?”)

      But, joke’s on MAVEN here — I do not care if children are crying! Dry Up!

  2. Dave Bearse says:

    I’m a transit advocate and will be advocating to other transit advocates that they oppose T-SPLOST.

    I’ve said from the get-go that the argument that the Chamber and other proponents will use that there’s “No Plan B” is malarky. The General Assembly has proven my point in coming up with $300,000,000 out of the workwork on a moment’s notice to subsidize I-75 / I-575 toll lanes.

    • sunkawakan says:

      Ah, the Lexus lanes. While I agree that I-575 is a mess, adding a rich man’s lane will do little to correct the situation. What these yahoos really want is to privatize more and more of the highway system. I’d watch the anti-competition clauses VERY closely in these deals.

      • seekingtounderstand says:

        The plan for Toll Lanes is to put them into place all over Georgia. TSPLOST will help fund this.
        Although they will not be truthful about it.
        Its not about making traffic better, but rasing revenue for a desperate government starved for funds.
        Everytime you think to vote for a republican, think of Lexus Lanes and Toll Roads.
        Think of good ol boys with bango music playing in the background. Deliverance from the corrupt.

    • ryanhawk says:

      The “No Plan B” argument is a bunch of malarky and the best thing voters can do to relieve congestion is vote this down and demand real leadership. Governor Deal and Mayor Reed have shown they can work together to get important things done (unlike Perdue/Franklin) and I believe we should give them the opportunity to fix the problem of congestion in Metro Atlanta. And outside of Metro Atlanta there is no problem with congestion requiring a regional approach. In these areas TSPLOST is being promoted, rather transparently, as a 25 cents on the dollar slush fund for whatever local government wants to waste it on.

      • seekingtounderstand says:

        In Hall County Splost funds have been used to borrow so much money that our entire budget will go to debt repayment in the next few years without massive tax increases. Splosts has allowed the good ol boys to steal and become rich.

    • Baker says:

      But barring some significant changes at the Gold Dome, no one down there is going to become more pro-transit. In a state dominated by Republicans, some of whom do fear Tea Party pushback, what do you think they would come up with for a “Plan B” that you would like?

      • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

        I agree that no one is going to become more pro-transit (or even more pro-transportation, just by looking at the disgraceful and disgusting state of the Georgia Department of Transportation) under the Gold Dome.

        As far as a potential “Plan B” (which sounds like something a female lobbyist would take immediately after a regrettable “interaction” with one of our many fine and upstanding model citizen legislators), or even as apart of what should be a “Plan A”, the state could EASILY pay for the implementation of much-needed exurban-t0-urban core commuter rail service in existing freight rail corridors by funding it the same way that the construction and operation of toll roads are funded in other states (most commonly in Texas and Florida) and the same way that the Georgia 400 toll road was funded in this state over 20 years ago, which is to float long-term bonds (between 20 and 40 years) and payback the bonds over that alloted time frame with the (adequately-priced, NOT rock-bottom) fares from the operation of the service (even sooner if the commuter rail service proves to be as popular as most think it will be if it is ever built).

      • bgsmallz says:

        I’ll be voting for it. I live in DeKalb and take MARTA downtown semi-regularly. I hate the cop out by the legislature in the form of the T-Splost. I hate that the state provides zero funding and yet dictates to Marta in a stupid manner what it should be spending on what. I hate that the state let Cobb and Gwinett cop out 40 years ago. Frankly, it is one of the last remaining affairs that has been paralyzed by racial stereotypes. How we have revisited so many other stupid decisions in the past 40 years but haven’t been able to revisit the decision to allow Cobb and Gwinett to opt out of Marta b/c they don’t want ‘those people’ coming OTP is just stupidity.

        However, I think you will be able to change minds on a regional form of payment and balancing out the share of DeKalb and Fulton quicker than you will be able to find funding without the T-Splost.

        It is completely flawed…and frankly…it is the kind of bull crap that you are supposed to avoid by having a representative government rather than a democracy. But…whatever…Pass the Buck is apparently ok by Grover’s Beard and so we all must live with it.

        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

          “I hate that the state let Cobb and Gwinett cop out 40 years ago. Frankly, it is one of the last remaining affairs that has been paralyzed by racial stereotypes.”

          I can’t really get my panties in a wad over those counties’ voters decision not to become apart of MARTA back 40 years ago as at that time Cobb was pretty much considered to be somewhat of a distant exurb, about the equivalent of what a Paulding County or Cherokee County is today while Gwinnett was pretty much the sticks (think somewhere along the lines of a Jackson County up I-85 as only 72,000 people lived in all of Gwinnett County in 1970 compared to 810,000 today).

          “How we have revisited so many other stupid decisions in the past 40 years but haven’t been able to revisit the decision to allow Cobb and Gwinett to opt out of Marta b/c they don’t want ‘those people’ coming OTP is just stupidity.”

          That decision has not been revisited because, despite well-documented demographic changes, both Cobb and Gwinnett are the two largest voting blocs of conservative suburban voters in the state.

          Both suburban mega-counties Cobb and Gwinnett are also home to the two largest and most influential conservative political delegations in the state (just ask Governor Nathan Deal who won the GOP Gubernatorial Primary on the strength of collecting more votes out of Gwinnett than out of any other county in the state).

        • bgsmallz says:

          By the way, here is a telling comment about why the 1968 Marta Bond issue was defeated…tell me if you have heard these before:

          “The defeat of the MARTA bond issue by a
          narrow margin in 1968 involved complex reactions
          of different political groups. One important
          element was the decision by local transit unions and
          labor leaders in general to campaign against
          MARTA’s proposal because it did not cite collective
          bargaining provisions included in Federal law. In
          addition, there were other political problems with
          other groups. Conservatives called the plan fiscally
          irresponsible. Opposition to the use of the property
          tax was strong among lower-income as well as suburban homeowners. Voters in outlying jurisdictions
          felt that the City of Atlanta would get the
          lion’s share of the benefits from the system.
          Atlanta’s black community complained it had not
          been involved in the planning and would not
          receive adequate service. Some analysts also argue
          that local officials from the metropolitan area were
          not adequately involved and that the publicity
          campaign for transit was handled poorly.”

          There is some saying about those who don’t learn from the past something something…I forget what it says.

          • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

            “There is some saying about those who don’t learn from the past something something…I forget what it says.”

            What? You don’t see the fun in banging your head against the wall repeatedly and being surprised when you get a concussion every time?

        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

          Besides, the wholesale extension of MARTA into counties may not necessarily be the best option for those counties (Cobb and Gwinnett) as, despite their very heavy and fast-growing populations, the type of urban density that is needed to support and sustain heavy rail transit and frequent local bus service may not necessarily exist there as of yet.

          While there are some relatively popular local bus routes in Cobb County, the local bus service sometimes tends to struggle somewhat in Gwinnett.

          Though the express and commuter bus service to-and-from those counties seems to be exceedingly popular, which signals that implementation of commuter rail and continued expansion of commuter bus service along with surface road improvements (extra lanes where needed, modifications to congested intersections, synchronizing stoplights, etc), might be the best option to deal with traffic congestion in those counties that are clearly in a long-term transition from the suburban communties they were late in the last century to something much more urban along the lines of a DeKalb County (which was the original mega-suburb back in the 1960’s and 70’s).

        • Dave Bearse says:

          Race is a factor, but I think it’s as much the GOP philosphy that government is best run as a business philosphy and it’s market corollary “I don’t use it so I shouldn’t have to pay for it” mentality.

          The Dome may be afraid of the Tea Party, but it’s well-established that the Dome does the Chamber’s bidding, even if it takes awhile. My money’s on the Chamber demanding Plan B funding. An advantage of the T-SPLOST being in July from the Chamber perspective is that strings can then be attached to general election campaign contribution checks.

      • Dave Bearse says:

        Below is what I would like, not that it has an ice cube’s chance:

        1 – Eliminate congressional balancing (which is now a bureaucratic nightmare of exceptions).
        2 – Redirect the 1% of the state’s 4% sales tax on motor fuel that goes to the general fund to transportation (only 3% of the 4% state sales tax on motor fuel is currently dedicated to transportation).
        3 – Combine the state’s 4% motor sales tax with the state’s 7.5 cents per gallon excise tax into a cents per gallon tax indexed to inflation.
        4 – Increase state motor fuel tax by an amount that would be fully returned to regions and localities for transportation as determined by localities and regions (allowing local SPLOSTS to expire and/or reductions in local property taxes).
        5 – Metro Atlanta regional sales tax for transit that is variable by county based on a variety of factors.

        Remember, it’s not like the General Assembly decided on its own to address transportation funding The Chamber told the General Assembly to do something, so something was done. T-SPLOST fails and incumbents will have to think of something else, or will have to get both their dinners and campaign contributions elsewhere.

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      “I’ve said from the get-go that the argument that the Chamber and other proponents will use that there’s “No Plan B” is malarky. The General Assembly has proven my point in coming up with $300,000,000 out of the workwork on a moment’s notice to subsidize I-75 / I-575 toll lanes.”

      Yeah, they came up with the $300 million at the expense of every other road project in the entire state that would take place within the same time frame that the I-75/575 HOT lanes would be funded.

  3. Rambler1414 says:

    Here’s another question:

    During TSPLOST project list development, Beverly Hall said over and over that all of MARTA/GRTA’s cost estimates and deliverability were assuming rule changes by the legislature, most notably the removal of 50/50.

    If TSPLOST does pass,
    who’s going to get blamed when GRTA & MARTA inevitably can’t deliver the Clifton Corridor (or other transit projects) in 10 years?

  4. Scott65 says:

    I have a very simple answer. When next years legislative session starts, MARTA should suspend service for one full day…no trains, no buses, NOTHING. I think people would (quite correctly) see what a world without MARTA would look like…and communicate that to those who legislate. It would be costly, but IMO very effective. What it would cost business alone would be huge…and you think traffic is bad now…

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