December 14, 2016 2:44 PM
The House Committee on Regional Transit Solutions met briefly Wednesday afternoon, and decided to recommend to the full House that a funded study be undertaken to get a better idea of what realistic policy options would be available for the funding and governance of a regional transit solution for the Atlanta area. Chairman Christian Coomer told his committee that he sensed a desire within the committee to make broad and sweeping policy changes, but that it did not make sense to make specific recommendations based on what the committee had learned so far, especially on something as complex as transit policy in the region.
“The question of governance and funding of transit at the state level or even at the regional level is a complex, convoluted question and one that does not beg for easy, straightforward answers,” said Chairman Coomer. “What we’ve also learned through the process … there is certainly a political will and a political desire for us to make some policy changes.”
Democratic Jonesboro Rep. Mike Glanton concurred, saying there was a need to stop back and figure out how to do more than simply enhance the existing system. He was in favor of moving beyond developing general policies, and instead proposing real solutions for what transit should be in the metro area and in Georgia. Dunwoody Rep. Tom Taylor pointed out that transit is the economic development backbone for the region. Fulton, DeKalb, and now Clayton have been paying for transit for around 40 years, and if the state will start funding transit, they will demand some input into how the money is spent.
Before making the motion to recommend a funded study committee, Chairman Coomer said that if the state was going to provide funding for transit, it had a fiduciary responsibility to see that the funding was properly spent. Items including the feasibility, cost of construction and maintenance, along with indirect impacts on economic development, traffic congestion and freight logistics need to be taken into consideration. In a formal vote, the motion to recommend a funded study passed unanimously.
Coomer will prepare a draft of the committee report that members can review. He hopes that the committee will have something ready to sign off on before the end of the year.