Home > Transportation, Uncategorized > Lee May raises some reasonable points in mailer

Lee May raises some reasonable points in mailer

November 1, 2011

I got an e-mail recently from Lee May’s office concerning the lack of rail service into South DeKalb. What was nice to see was his lack of enthusiasm for an additional penny to fund transportation improvements in the metro. Here are a few excerpts. Though he has not come out against it, it seems the tone of this e-mail suggests that we should take a long, hard critical look at what is being asked of us versus what we are getting in return.

First his argument against “Bus Centers”

It is also noted that one of the residents, though disappointed about the rail projects not being funded was quoted as saying “…I think it would have been much more beneficial than premium bus service because it’s already harder to provide an incentive to get people on a bus than it is with a rail line.” This has been one of the many reason for supporting funding for the I-20 East Rail project. Bus service, albeit, bus rapid transit service, is still buses —- which equates to still sitting in traffic.

The promise of rail decades ago

  Proponents of the project list will say that DeKalb residents are getting $1.6 Billion from the total $6 Billion allocated for the region.  On the surface this might sound like a great deal:  for a mere additional one cent tax you get $1.6 Billion in roadway projects (minus the $700M for the Clifton Corridor project) — but no rail.  You will receive Bike/Pedestrian improvements.  But no Rail.  And you will receive bus rapid transit — but again, no rail.  Over thirty years ago, an agreement was made with the taxpayers of DeKalb and that agreement was in short, “pay the one percent sales tax and rail will be constructed throughout DeKalb.”  Thus far no new rail projects in 20+ years have been constructed in Central and South DeKalb — Central and South DeKalb have been left alongside the road.

His question to residents

Review the list. Yes, there are roadway improvement projects in Central and South DeKalb but the crux of the issue is: does Central and South DeKalb continue to pay a one percent tax and not get rail?

His Conclusion

Road improvement projects, in effect, are road widening projects and intersection improvements are to accommodate more traffic.  South and Central DeKalb will have great roads that will continue to be clogged with bumper-to-bumper traffic.  South and Central DeKalb will not be in a position to get people out of their cars and on to rail for another 40 years

These seem like reasonable grievances to me. Buses must be complimented by other forms of transportation including light or heavy rail. Buses are at the mercy of traffic conditions like any other road vehicle. Unless the buses have an exclusive right of way that no other traffic can enter into, then it is not a solution. I don’t need to speak about the promise of rail. If rail (light or heavy) goes out into Cobb or Gwinnett, we are truly being shafted. And to me that what this penny boils down to. Are we getting our money’s worth?

See the full text here of the May’s mailer




  1. Ron
    November 2, 2011 at 5:26 am

    Gwinnett’s population has skyrocketed compared with south Dekalbs. Many residents of Dekalb have moved to Gwinnett. The tax revenues from Gwinnett are far higher than in south Dekalb.

    South Dekalb is a lost ghetto of section 8, HUD, slums, thugs, high crime, etc.

    Why should these people get billions in a new rail system?

    I would love to see rail extend all the way up I-85 in Gwinnett and even up 78 through Tucker and into Stone Mountain and Snellville.

    The vast majority of MARTA rail is in the slums of Atlanta and on south. Most people wont even ride it to the airport anymore becuase of safety issues.

    if MARTA had an express rail line with no stop between Fivepoints and the Airport they could charge 8 bucks or more per rider and it would be full of business people and tourists happy to pay it. These people are happily spending 40 bucks on a cab ride each way or renting a car now. NYC, LA, Chicago, Dallas, etc all have airport express trains which bypass the many stops which takes forever.

    MARTA has NEVER turned a profit or even come close to breaking even since it was started and the trend will always stay that way until they get the tax payers who fund it, riding it and paying full fare for it.

    Go ride the train in Boston and its safe, full of students and business people, and the rails go where the people who pay for it live and work.

    • November 2, 2011 at 9:53 am

      Of Course tax revenues in Gwinnett are higher than South Dekalb. You are comparing an entire county to a half of another.

      I will not deny that there is an abundance of Section 8 housing in South DeKalb, but it was not always that way. Section 8 is a government program that allows concentrated housing for the poor. The only problem is that it concentrates in one or two spots and cause problems for legitimate homeowners. Its sort of like the new “projects”. Those who want and can escape to far flung suburbs do so. You must know that the fastest growing areas for the “new” poor is not the inner core of the metro, it is in places like Norcross, Marietta and Lilburn, where it is hidden among the more well to do. As for slums, trust me South Dekalb has no slums. I have seen slums up close and personal and it is not a pretty site.

      I would love to see rail that goes to Tucker and Stone Mountain, so long as it stays in DeKalb and nor further.

      The reason “these” people should get rail is because “these” people have been paying into the system for over 3 decades with little to show in return. Gwinnett and Cobb don’t even want rail service fearing “these” people will actually have a way to go to work in the far flung car dependent suburbs bringing “their” crime with them

      Actually a quick glance at a MARTA rail map shows a vast majority of the system is above I-20, the usual marker between north and south metro.

      No city that has a rail system in the U.S turns a profit without being subsidized by state and local tax dollars. In fact public transportation in general is a money loser because it provides a service at a cost that would make it impossible to be profitable. If you charge 8 bucks a ride, you would lose so many riders that the people who paid 8 bucks still could not keep the system profitable. As for Boston and its lovely system, it still does not make a profit at the farebox. In fact Boston’s farebox recovery ratio is just 12 percentage points higher than MARTA, it it serves a much higher density population. See here for more info

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