A Senate study committee chaired by Senator Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) recommended last week that the General Assembly consider “a path forward” towards a transit governance bill, perhaps as early as the 2018 session.
From the Atlanta Business Chronicle:
The committee’s report recommends the legislature set aside funding this winter the State Road and Tollway Authority (SRTA) would use to develop transit governance legislation to introduce in 2018.
The committee also amended its report to require county-wide approval for any proposed transit governance program. A referendum on the issue would likely be welcome in most metro counties:
Political and business leaders, transit agency officials and Georgians who use public transit have long complained that metro Atlanta’s hodge-podge of bus and rail systems are inefficient.
To that mix, you can add “countless other metro Atlanta residents who want to use public transit, but currently can’t because it’s not a viable option in their community.”
Smyrna is just across the Chattahoochee from the Atlanta city limits, and I regularly hear from residents who would love to use transit to commute to downtown Atlanta and other employment centers like Buckhead.
Late last year, I participated in a town hall meeting regarding a study we’re doing for the corridor that connects central Smyrna with SunTrust Park, and sentiment from the crowd was overwhelmingly in favor of increased transit options. It’s important to note that this wasn’t a room full of Millennials. Real talk, y’all: most people who attend suburban town hall-style meetings at 6 PM on a weeknight typically aren’t Millennials, or even Xers (they’re all still at work, or are driving someone to soccer practice). While Generations X and Y had some representation in the room, it was mostly Boomers – and nearly all nodded their heads in agreement when the conversation turned to better transit connectivity for Smyrna and Cobb County.
Senator Gooch is correct when he describes the issue as “complicated.” Metro Atlanta is an amalgam of counties and cities, and there’s a breadth of opinions regarding transit within each county – I’m going to venture that these opinions vary based on how close to the city of Atlanta a community is located. People in Smyrna are probably more in favor of transit than people in, say, west Cobb. Bottom line, though, is that no matter where you live in metro Atlanta (and west Cobb is absolutely part of metro Atlanta), better transit means fewer cars on the road. We can all look forward to learning what the third-party consultant determines this winter.