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Posts Tagged ‘rail service’

Blame elected officials for lack of transit in South DeKalb

August 10, 2011 2 comments

I am a big supporter of public transportation. When I was in my early teens growing up in Indiana, my mother bought me a pass for our local bus system. I was the only one of my friends who knew how to catch the bus. When we moved to Georgia, the first thing I did was buy a MARTA card. I learned more about this city riding transit than most locals knew who had lived here all their lives. When we bought our house several years ago, one of our desires was it be close to mass transit. It all was a matter of choices. Unfortunately in South DeKalb, public transportation choices will be limited to buses. No rail of any sort for those of us who have been supporting MARTA for decades. The roundtable, that is deciding what projects to include in next years tax referendum, scrapped any idea of a train system running into South DeKalb. Instead they chose to link Emory with the Lindbergh area, and extend MARTA up to Cumberland in Cobb county. I am in agreement with the roundtable that the Emory/Clifton corridor needs more than  buses, but to extend rail to Cobb is really a slap in the face for us long time riders and supporters of MARTA. Cobb, along with Gwinnett, and Clayton, decide decades ago that they did not want public transportation. Only recently have they embraced the idea that some public transport is needed. Now Cobb residents get to enjoy the spoils of an already in place system that was paid for by Dekalb and Fulton residents. But what is even more distressing is that one of the two elected leader that repesents the county on this roundtable was rather dismissive of any sort of transit choices in South DeKalb. Here is what CEO Ellis had to say:

Transit addresses traffic and belongs where there is the greatest concentration of people,

He should have added on to that “who will actually use it”. MARTA has done the needed studies to for rail service in parts of the I-20 corridor. They have shown that it is a viable project. They have done environmental impact studies, and have presented it to the public. The only thing that stood in the way was funding. Now that there is a possible funding plan, the rug is pulled out from under our feet. All of this is due to a lack of political resolve by the elected officials that represent us. This is just one of many times where our elected representatives have failed us. From quality of life issues to economic development, the county, our state reps and even our congressmen fail us at every turn. They do this because they know there will be few if any repercussions for their inaction.  The rally for rail that Lee May held earlier this week was well intentioned, but a little too late. That should have been done earlier in the process to let the roundtable know exactly where we stood. Much of South DeKalb has been written off as ignorant and unworthy of proper representation. Until we hold our elected representatives to a higher standard, we will continue to get sub-standard representation.

MARTA looking to raise fares again

May 11, 2011 Comments off

Here we go again. MARTA has decided it is going to ask riders to pay an additional .50 cents for a single trip on bus or rail. This comes less than a year after the last fare increase in October of 2010. The single ride fare will go up 25% to 2.50. A weekly pass and a monthly pass are both jumping by 40 percent. The weekly will go from $17 to $23.75. A monthly will jump from $68 to $95. These are pretty hefty spikes especially for people who are struggling to meet ends meet. These rates are getting close to the price of gassing up for a month. I get the need to increase fares to help cover operating costs, but this increase like the last will not come with any expanded service. As a regular user of the system, I find it pretty naïve to expect the public to foot another increase in fares with no changes in service or maybe even reduced services. I hope public comments will sway MARTA to shelve this thing for good or at least wait a couple of years before asking riders to pony up 25-50 percent more to ride. See the entire Press release here. Below is the proposed fare increase and the locations and times for public comment.

Proposed Fare Increases for FY2012

Fare Media

Current

Proposed FY2012

Base Fare

$2.00

$2.50

Reduced Fare

$.090

$0.95*

Mobility Base

$3.60

$3.80*

Weekly Pass

$17.00

$23.75

Monthly Pass

$68.00

$95.00

Mobility Pass

$115.00

$122.00*

TMA Discounts

0% to 10%

No Change

Children

Free with Adult

(Height Requirement 46” Max 2)

No Change

Public Hearings

(A community exchange will be held at all public hearings from 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.)

Monday, May 16, 2011 at 7 p.m.

Fulton County Government Center

141 Pryor Street

Atlanta, GA  30303

Taking MARTA:  Bus route 49 from the Five Points Rail Station. Special bus shuttle will be provided.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011 at 7 p.m.

DeKalb Maloof Auditorium

1300 Commerce Drive

Decatur, GA  30030

Taking MARTA: Walk one block west of Decatur Rail Station

MARTA Rail along I-20 still a longshot

October 29, 2010 4 comments

I attended the last of the community meetings that MARTA was having to discuss the I-20 corridor last night, and came away with the following observations

There are three options on the table for better transit in south DeKalb; Heavy rail, Light Rail, and Bus Rapid Transit. I prefer a light rail alternative that will ferry folks within the corridor and connect to an existing MARTA rail station or a yet to be constructed multi-modal terminal in downtown.

There have been three studies that concentrated on the I-20 corridor in the past ten years. All three have been shelved. There have been an additional four studies that involved South DeKalb in one way or another in the last ten years. None have been acted on, and this study, though using some data from previous studies, will basically start over from scratch. I have to wonder whether anything will become of this latest study.

There are nearly 400,000 people in the corridor. In twenty years that number is projected to grow 26%. Sorry folks, but a few buses traveling the main roads is not going to cut it. Also, MARTA rail stations tend to bring positive development to areas in which they are located. You want to see better development opportunities in South DeKalb, improve the transit options.

A lot of the folk in the meeting were quite passionate about transit in the area. Many in attendance wanted better options for travel not only in South DeKalb, but to other areas of the metro. Most favored a light rail system when asked to vote on an option. That tells me people are aware of the realities of bringing rail to south DeKalb. Heavy rail will never come to south DeKalb. So we must look at other options the next best thing is Light rail. It costs less than heavy rail, but can carry more people than BRT systems. Also, it would be nice to see the regions first light rail implemented in South DeKalb.

This study is just that, a study. What many folks do not know is that this study has to make it onto a list of regional transit options that will be funded by an additional 1 cent sales tax on people. The sales tax referendum isn’t scheduled until the 2012 elections. Even if that passes, there is no guarantee that this project gets on the list. In short, the project has to be considered doable to make the list, then funding must be approved via this vote. I am a pessimist and my pessimistic nature tells me not to get my hopes up too high. There are other areas who will be pushing their own transportation projects, and many of those areas are much more politically connected than South DeKalb. If this thing happens I will be pleasantly surprised. It might even add a bit of optimism to my pessimistic outlook on this whole transit thing.

Finally, in addition to MARTA big wigs, there were a couple of surprise faces in the crowd. I was surprised to see School board member Zepora Roberts in attendance. Roberts, who could be ex-board member Roberts next week, was very vocal and passionate about transit in the area. Like many in the audience she was skeptical of the chances that transit will come to I-20 anytime soon. Also in attendance was 4th district candidate Liz Carter. She says she has been to each of the meetings held in the corridor. Since I have only been to one of the meetings, I can’t verify that but Carter has been very visible in South DeKalb during this race. Far More visible than Hank Johnson, or some of our local elected officials. Say what you want about Carter and her party representation, but she seems to have a genuine concern about what goes on in the district