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Good article, Ms. Long

Though, I'm not completely sure but I think that the "fourth penny" or 25% of revenue collected from state motor fuel taxes that the Georgia Legislature diverts from road maintenance to the general fund is supposed to go road maintenance.

In other words, the legislature's diversion of motor fuel tax revenue from road maintenance to the general fund may itself be unconstitutional but it's just that that diversion has not been challenged yet in a court of law.

Besides, there's a reason that the Georgia State Constitution stipulates that motor fuel taxes are only to be spent on roads....It's because even if all motor fuel tax collected was not diverted to the general fund and went straight to maintaining the road network as intended by the state constitution, it still would not be enough to maintain the state's road network.

Instead of attempting to unconstitutionally divert motor fuel tax to transit instead of unconstitutionally diverting motor fuel tax revenue to the general fund as is done currently (as you can best believe that attempting to fund transit with motor fuel tax revenue would most certainly draw a constitutional challenge in a conservative state where much, if not most, of the population remains highly skeptical of the effectiveness of transit), what we need to be doing is finding new revenue streams for transit funding that do not involve taking very limited dollars from the state's vastly underfunded road network.

3 weeks, 1 day ago on We can't keep ignoring the need to invest in transportation infrastructure

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@Burroughston Broch @The Last Democrat in Georgia{{"I don't agree with you. If Democrats want to win in Georgia, they must offer candidates and agendas that are attractive to all voters, not just blacks and Hispanics. It's that simple."}}

I agree that offering agendas that are attractive to all voters, not just blacks and Hispanics will help Democrats to have a better shot at winning in Georgia.

But because of the conservative and libertarian bent of the roughly 60-65% of white voters that dominate the Georgia electorate and because of the close affiliation of the Georgia Democratic Party to the National Democratic Party (an entity which most of those dominant white Georgia voters consider to be entirely too liberal to receive their votes) in the minds and hearts of those white Georgia voters, Democrats likely never will be an attractive option for white Georgia voters as long as the Georgia electorate is dominated by conservative white voters and as long as the Democratic Party is considered by those dominant conservative white voters to be too liberal for their tastes.

The overwhelming majority of white voters in conservative states like Georgia just simply can no longer relate to or identify with the Democratic Party, no matter how seemingly attractive the candidates they might run might appear to be. 

If Democrats want to win in a conservative state like Georgia they are going to have to grow the electorate with voters that likely will be more amenable to voting for them by registering and turning out more black, Hispanic and Asian voters....And Georgia Democrats had better hurry because it appears that Georgia Republicans are starting to make significant headways with minorities if the reports are correct that Governor Nathan Deal received up to 11% of the black vote (on the strength of his criminal justice reform efforts and his support for charter schools) and U.S. Senator-elect David Perdue received up to 40% of the Hispanic vote. 

{{"If Democrats continue to follow the tactic you suggest, they will soon lose all relevance in Georgia. This decline will be accelerated once blacks recognize they have suffered the worst of all demographics under the last 6 years of Democratic rule from Washington."}}

But with being on the short end of a Republican supermajority in the Georgia Legislative, being in possession of NO statewide offices and with the possession of only 4 of 14 Congressional seats, Democrats have effectively already lost all relevance in Georgia. 

Heck, the Democratic Party of Georgia had as little as only $13,000 in the bank in early 2013 before recruiting two candidates with well-known family names in Michelle Nunn and Jason Carter to run during the 2014 election cycle (...Georgia Republicans as a whole always have several millions of dollars on hand at any given time because of their fundraising prowess).

The 2014 election cycle was actually a vast improvement from the depths of total disarray, absolute dysfunction and perennial retreat that Georgia Democrats had been in between 2003-2013 when the party bottomed completely out with no money and no organization of any kind.

The 2014 election cycle got Georgia Democrats back on the board in a very big way, its just that GA Democrats do not have the ability to turnout their base at almost a moment's notice like GA Republicans can and did in 2014.

GA Democrats cannot depend on white voters to support them because more often than not, those white voters will almost always vote for the Republican candidates that they can relate to and identify with in overwhelming numbers.

GA Democrats must register, grow, cultivate and turnout their base of non-white voters, otherwise they will never be able to close the deal in statewide elections in Georgia because the Republicans will always be able to turnout a larger base vote while grabbing the votes of white independents.

If Georgia Republicans would not have been able to turnout their large base vote (while grabbing most of the votes of white independents) they probably would not have been able to win in 2014....That base vote is critical to winning elections.

1 month, 1 week ago on Little consolation for Democrats in election drubbing

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@Burroughston Broch @The Last Democrat in Georgia 

Of course its all about race....White voters make up about somewhere between 58-66% of the electorate (whites make up about 58% of registered voters and about 66% of likely voters) and Democrats currently can't win more than 23% of that very-dominant part of the electorate.  The overwhelming majority of independent voters are white voters as most black voters generally vote for Democrats in overwhelming fashion.

Unless it is some kind of extremely unusual event, the independent white voters that dominate the electorate will generally always vote for Republicans in statewide races because those independent white voters view Republicans as being much closer to their conservative values than Democrats who are viewed by about 53-55% of the electorate as being too liberal for a conservative state like Georgia.

When one is talking about independent voters, they are most often going to be talking about white voters because white voters make up the overwhelming majority of independent voters in a state like Georgia.

Politics is all about race because elections are won on demographics.  In 2012, Mitt Romney won the same percentage of the white vote that Ronald Reagan won in 1980, but Mitt Romney lost in 2012 because their were many more non-whites that voted in 2012 than in 1980.

In 1980, whites made up 67% of the population of California in a state where Ronald Reagan won 53% of the vote and Republicans still played a strong, if not dominant, role in statewide governance (Reagan won 58% of the vote in 1984 and G.H.W. Bush won 51% of the vote in 1988...Republicans have not won California since).  By 2012 the Republican presidential candidate (Romney) only won 37% of the vote in a state in California where whites currently make up about only 39% of the population.

Demographics matter in electoral politics as political parties do much better with people that are much more likely to vote for them....In this case white voters are much more likely to vote for Republicans (particularly in a conservative state like Georgia where whites still make up about 54-55% of the state's population (down from about 73% in 1990)) while non-whites are much more likely to vote for Democrats.

Democrats likely cannot (and will not) win statewide elections in a state where the electorate is dominated by conservative white voters that do NOT like them and cannot politically, socially or personally identify with them.  If Democrats want to win in Georgia, they are going to have to turnout more non-white voters than white voters, its just that simple.

- See more at: http://saportareport.com/blog/2014/11/little-consolation-for-democrats-in-election-drubbing/comment-page-1/#comment-88644

1 month, 1 week ago on Little consolation for Democrats in election drubbing

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@Burroughston Broch @The Last Democrat in Georgia  For all intents and purposes, Georgia Democrats effectively already have lost any chance of winning the independent voters who hold the balance of power.

Georgia Democrats know that they'll receive at least no less than 20% (about 20-23%) of the white vote in statewide races. 

If Georgia Democrats want to have a shot at winning statewide elections, they are going to have to focus on registering and turning out enough non-white voters to win with only about 20% of the white vote. 

This most recent election in 2014 has made it abundantly clear that Georgia Democrats most likely will not win more than 25% (if that) in statewide races under current conditions (and likely will not win more than 30% under the most favorable conditions for them)....That's because Georgia Democrats (and Democrats in general) are considered to be entirely too liberal to win statewide races in an electorate in which conservative white voters dominate.

In addition to expanding the electorate to include many more non-white voters (probably at least 400,000 or more non-white voters) so that they can win statewide races with only about 20% of the white vote, Georgia Democrats are going to have to obsessively and relentlessly raise money at a level that is the same or greater than the currently ultra-dominant Georgia Republicans who excel at turning out their base and raising ridiculous amounts of money.

Otherwise, without a dominant ground game that consists upon at least 400,000 more non-white voters in the electorate and obsessive and relentless fundraising, Georgia Democrats will never win a statewide election in the foreseeable future.

Basically, to have a legitimate shot at winning statewide elections, Georgia Democrats are going to have to grow their base and their bank account to be bigger than Georgia Republicans who will likely always win no less than about 70-75% of the white vote.

Going after independent white voters is a lost cause for Georgia Democrats because independent white voters lean heavily conservative in Georgia.  Independent whites default votes will always be for a conservative Republican rather than for a liberal Democrat.

1 month, 1 week ago on Little consolation for Democrats in election drubbing

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@Burroughston Broch @The Last Democrat in Georgia  {{"How politically palatable would our populist leaders find that?"}}

...You have an excellent point that raising sales taxes to a level of 10-12% is not very politically palatable (despite the fact that the state income tax would be eliminated)....Which is why the Georgia Legislature passed a constitutional cap of the state income tax instead of eliminating it and replacing it with a higher state sales tax.

Though I have major doubts that any action will ever be taken, the current talk swirling around the state legislature proposes to only reduce the state income tax to 4% and increase the state sales tax to 6%.

Though even that modest proposal would likely be politically unpalatable because many local governments like to collect revenue by levying local option sales taxes (like the increasingly highly contentious SPLOST that just again passed in Cobb County on Election Day).  Raising the state sales tax even as little as 1 or 2 percentage points, much less 5 or 6 percentage points, would most likely make it impossible for counties to get voters to continue to support their already increasingly contentious SPLOST proposals.

It is because of the political unattractiveness of significantly increasing state sales taxes as well as the dependence of local governments on SPLOST revenue that we will likely not ever see much if any action on significantly reducing, much less eliminating the state income tax.

1 month, 1 week ago on Wall Street reviews Georgia’s new limit on individual income tax rate

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@Burroughston Broch @The Last Democrat in Georgia  Not only has MARTA been unwilling to extend rail service to South DeKalb County but MARTA has also been unable to extend rail service to South DeKalb County because of the agency's refusal to collect revenues from any sources other than the 1% sales tax. 

MARTA's very poor management of the limited revenue it has collected from the 1% sales tax also has not helped.  With the limited revenues that MARTA has had on hand (and the mismanagement of those limited revenues), we are lucky to have the rail transit network that is currently in place.

Unfortunately you are most likely correct that Clayton should not expect to receive rail transit service anytime soon....That's because the revenues collected from the 1% sales tax that Clayton County will pay will not be enough to fund the construction of a rail transit line into the county....But at the very least the revenues from the 1% sales tax will be enough to fund the bus transit service that Clayton County so desperately needs.

1 month, 1 week ago on MARTA's big win in Clayton to impact Atlanta region on micro, macro levels

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@Burroughston Broch  Georgia Democrats most likely cannot win a statewide race with an electorate in which conservative white voters are the majority....That's because in an electorate in which conservative white voters are the majority, Georgia Democrats likely will never receive more than 25% of white voters tops (Nunn and Carter received only about 23% of the white vote).

White Georgia voters will likely never give a majority of their votes to Democrats in a statewide race because white Georgia voters (who are generally decidedly conservative in their political leanings) think that Democrats are entirely too liberal to be elected to statewide office in the state of Georgia.

To have any hopes of again capturing statewide office before about 2030, Georgia Democrats are going to have to "expand the electorate" by registering all of the non-white voters that they can like Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed stated after the election. 

If Georgia Democrats want to have a legitimate shot of winning statewide races, they are going to have to find a way to win with only about 20% of the white vote by expanding the electorate by registering as many non-white voters as they can....Otherwise if Democratic candidates like Michelle Nunn and Jason Carter want to win statewide races in Georgia, they had most likely better put an (R) in front of their names when running statewide in the future. 

1 month, 1 week ago on Little consolation for Democrats in election drubbing

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@Burroughston Broch  At this point, Georgia state government needs to "get off the pot" and move to reduce if not eliminate the state income tax.  The recent economic downturn which saw state revenues crash through the floor proves that the state income tax will never be increased, even during an emergency situation.

This constitutional amendment to cap the state's income tax at 6% is just a gimmick that the state is using to stall on taking action to eliminate the income tax because the state both does not want to give up the revenue and seems to be afraid to replace the income tax with an increased state sales tax.

1 month, 1 week ago on Wall Street reviews Georgia’s new limit on individual income tax rate

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@Fed Up Resident  What brought down home values and increased the crime rate in Clayton County was not the presence of public bus transit service.

What brought down home values in Clayton County was the availability of relatively very cheap and affordable housing in the form of an abundance of multi-family housing (apartments, condos and townhomes) in the north end of the county. 

The continued construction of new single-family housing in farther-outlying South Metro Atlanta counties like Henry, Fayette and Coweta and regional development patterns which are very heavily tilted towards the Northside (North Metro Atlanta areas like North Fulton, Cobb, Cherokee, Paulding, Forsyth, Gwinnett, Hall, etc) also played a dominant role in the decline of home values and increase in crime in Clayton County.

Clayton County's abundance of multi-family housing became a 'dumping ground' of sorts for lower-income residents who were displaced from closed and demolished housing projects in the City of Atlanta.  Clayton County's abundant amount of multi-family housing also became a relocation destination for lower-income residents relocating to Metro Atlanta from other urban areas around the country (places like the Great Lakes, the Northeast, California and other areas of the South)....Lower-income newcomers who could not afford to move into newer single-family housing developments in farther-outlying areas like Henry, Fayette and Coweta counties in South Metro Atlanta.

With so much newer residential and commercial development popping up seemingly everywhere else but Clayton on a massive scale, Clayton County was always going to be at an overwhelming disadvantage to other suburban areas on both the Southside and the Northside....That's because middle and upper-income homebuyers with more income were going to move to hotter areas with newer development while lower-income residents with less income were going to move into the lower-priced housing in Clayton that was being bypassed and abandoned by middle and upper-income homebuyers moving to newer areas on the South and North sides of the metro region.

1 month, 1 week ago on MARTA's big win in Clayton to impact Atlanta region on micro, macro levels

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The decision of Clayton County voters to join MARTA by an overwhelming margin is a very positive development indeed for the critically important issue of multimodal transportation in Metro Atlanta and Georgia in general (particularly transit).

1 month, 1 week ago on MARTA's big win in Clayton to impact Atlanta region on micro, macro levels

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@kevinalynch  There are some very interesting ideas proposed in the article that you linked to.

The proposed Vancouver model of charging each citizen a dollar a day, likely would not work in Atlanta, particularly on a regional/multi-jurisdictional/multi-county scale because it would be viewed as a tax and would take money from many citizens who do not support transit.

What is really interesting is that the article cites Hong Kong's malls inside transit stations as a model, not to replace fares (Hong Kong employs a distance-based fare structure of roughly about $0.40/mile), but as a way to generate much additional revenue (Hong Kong transit stations are developed as large-scale transit-owned mixed-use transit-oriented real estate developments expressly for the purpose of generating revenues to fund maximum amounts of transit service as needed...so that the money is always available to add service as needed).

1 month, 2 weeks ago on Region’s rail backers watching Clayton County's MARTA vote

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@gt7348b @The Last Democrat in Georgia @Burroughston Broch  A large urban transit agency like MARTA also would not need to use federal money to purchase new tracts of land to cultivate into revenue-generating transit-owned transit-oriented real estate development.

Using the extremely lucrative and wildly successful Hong Kong model, a large urban transit agency like MARTA would raise the money to acquire new properties to develop as needed by raising money from the private sector by selling shares of its agency and real estate development futures (Hong Kong's highly-profitable transit agency, MTR, is 24% privately-owned).

Also, the idea of using Value Capture taxation as a means of supplementing revenues from maximized transit-owned transit-oriented real estate development could potentially be a much more palatable one (if not a popular one) with Georgia's tax increase averse legislators in this current highly tax averse climate because Value Capture taxes would be targeted only at commercial properties along high-capacity transit corridors, NOT residential properties (particularly single-family residential properties which are occupied by voters who are much more loathe to support and vote for tax increases for transit).

Value Capture taxes do not require the utilization of highly-controversial countywide (or regionwide) sales tax referendums which are often dominated by highly tax averse voters and staunchly anti-tax political factions.  Value Capture taxes only require the agreement and approval of the business community and private commercial property owners who are much more willing to support a tax increase to pay for transit infrastructure that will vastly increase the monetary value of their private property holdings. 

1 month, 2 weeks ago on Region’s rail backers watching Clayton County's MARTA vote

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@gt7348b @The Last Democrat in Georgia @Burroughston Broch  But many large urban/metropolitan/regional transit agencies do own somewhat large tracts of land around transit stations, particularly in suburban and semi-suburban settings where rail transit stations may be surrounded by large park-and-ride lots like the large park-and-ride lots that sit adjacent to many stations throughout the MARTA heavy rail system.

It is those large park-and-ride lots that offer some of the greatest opportunities for a traditionally cash-strapped transit agency like MARTA to generate significantly increased revenues from transit-owned transit-oriented real estate development.  MARTA already owns the land (along with GDOT which also owns some of those park-and-ride lots at suburban and semi-suburban MARTA stations), they've just got to start putting those to use....Like MARTA has already started the process of doing.

The airspace above urban stations in more densely-developed areas of the system (like Midtown, Downtown, Buckhead, etc) also offer some great opportunities to generate large amounts of revenue from transit-owned transit-oriented real estate development because of the prime location of the stations.

Also, your mention of the joint development team at MARTA consisting of only about 2 or 3 people illustrates the need for a large urban transit agency like MARTA to partner much more closely with and utilize the resources of Metro Atlanta's robust private real estate development sector....That's because transit-owned transit-oriented real estate development is a revenue stream that could potentially generate as much as $100 BILLION in revenues if utilized correctly....Potential revenues that are nothing for a traditionally severely cash-strapped transit agency like MARTA to sneeze at.

Hong Kong has maximized the transit-owned transit-oriented real estate development revenue stream to the extent that its transit agency is reported to be worth an estimated $250 billion in value....With that kind of revenue, we could extend transit service all over the Atlanta region and likely throughout much of the state of Georgia....But without that robust revenue stream from transit-oriented real estate development we will continue struggle to operate trains and buses at a minimal level of service (like Burroughton Broch's example of a 40-minute trip taking 90 minutes to compete just to ride no more than 25 miles from the world's busiest airport at 10pm at night to one of the metro area's most important business and residential districts in Dunwoody...transit service that should operate at a prime level at any and all hours of the day).

1 month, 2 weeks ago on Region’s rail backers watching Clayton County's MARTA vote

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@Lunaville  Those are some really good comments and some excellent ideas.

Though the idea for a dime gallon tax on gasoline would likely be problematic because in this current political climate that is completely dominated at highly tax-averse factions at both the state and federal levels of government, any proposal to increase taxes would be a non-starter.  Any suggestion to increase taxes for any reason, no matter how seemingly important, is D.O.A. (Dead-On-Arrival) before it is even heard or considered by policymakers and their highly tax-averse constituents.

Support of tax increases of any kind are major political liabilities that are enough to get almost all politicians immediately and angrily voted out of office in this current political environment. 

It is because of the overwhelming unpopularity of even the mere suggestion of tax increases that it is so critically important that we find and utilize ways to fund our overwhelming transportation needs without increasing taxes. 

The almost total political inability to increase taxes is a major reason why paying for transportation improvements with revenues from real estate development, private investment and distance-based user fees will be so critically important in the 21st Century....Because the traditional options of increasing taxes to pay for transportation improvements will likely be a political impossibility for the foreseeable future.

1 month, 2 weeks ago on Region’s rail backers watching Clayton County's MARTA vote

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@Lunaville  Those are some really good points, particularly about the pressing need for a statewide plan for public transit.

Though, one thing to note is that making MARTA financially self-sufficient and financially and operationally successful makes it much less likely that expansion of heavy rail transit service beyond Fulton and DeKalb counties will be blocked.

If a transit agency like MARTA becomes financially and operationally successful, not only will outlying counties be much less likely to block a much-needed expansion of the passenger rail transit network, but those outlying areas will likely eagerly want to become part of the passenger rail transit network in a 21st Century economy where access to transit is key to economic growth and success in large major metro regions.

1 month, 2 weeks ago on Region’s rail backers watching Clayton County's MARTA vote

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@gt7348b @The Last Democrat in Georgia @Burroughston Broch  You also make some really good points about variable-based and/or distance-based fares.

(...In this case, fares would not be variable, but would only be distance-based in nature, meaning that fares would be levied by the mile at a rate of about $0.20-0.30 per-mile in 2014 dollars with no increased rates for rush-hour and peak-hour usage....Fares would also be discounted to a rate of as low as $0.10/mile in 2014 dollars for economically disadvantaged and special groups and fares would be increased to a rate of as high as $0.50/mile in 2014 dollars for premium rail service (first-class, express commuter trains, etc).)

You make a great point that a distance-based fare structure alone will not necessarily generate more revenue for a transit system. 

A distance-based fare structure will generate more revenues, but primarily only if much more transit-oriented development is built to generate many more transit trips (and much more fare revenue) along transit lines (both rail and bus transit lines).

A distance-based fare structure and large-scale transit-oriented development compliments each other (large-scale TOD generates increased transit trips while a distance-based fare structure generates more revenue by charging less for shorter trips and more for longer trips than the current $2.50 flat-rate fare that charges $2.50 no matter the length of the trip) while revenues from targeted Value Capture taxes supplement the increased revenues from distance-based fares and transit-owned transit-oriented development along transit lines.

1 month, 2 weeks ago on Region’s rail backers watching Clayton County's MARTA vote

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@gt7348b @The Last Democrat in Georgia @Burroughston Broch  Those are some really good points.

To get collect and maximize revenues from transit-oriented development along transit lines, large urban transit agencies like MARTA will have to be very aggressive in seeking outleases of the property and air rights they own at, around and above transit stations. 

Large urban transit agencies like MARTA will also have to be aggressive in making new property acquisitions along transit lines by raising funds from private investors, something that American urban transit agencies (and local and state governments) are not accustomed to at this point in time....But raising funds from private investors is something that American urban transit agencies are going to have to get accustomed to in this 21st Century climate of increasingly scarce transportation funding from traditional revenue sources like sales taxes for transit and fuel taxes for roads.

At this point in time, MARTA has not been very aggressive in seeking to sell the development rights at, around and above stations and MARTA has no portfolio of transit-owned properties outside of its rail transit stations.  To compensate for that lack of revenue-generating transit-owned properties, a large urban agency like MARTA could collect Value Capture taxes from commercial properties along transit lines.

Value Capture taxes (revenues collected from targeted Community Improvement Districts (CIDs), Tax Allocation Districts (TADs), Tax Increment Financing (TIF) property and sales taxes on commercial properties along transit lines) will serve as the "real estate transaction fee" that you speak on properties that have increased values because of their location near transit lines. 

1 month, 2 weeks ago on Region’s rail backers watching Clayton County's MARTA vote

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@Burroughston Broch  If the Metro Chamber does not want to hear that the growth prospects may not necessarily be as enticing as other areas then the Metro Chamber needs to come up with much more innovative ways for the Atlanta region and the State of Georgia to fund their transportation infrastructure needs than just begging taxpayers to beg for tax increases (T-SPLOST) that they know will be wasted on an inefficient and ineffective status quo.

The Metro Chamber and the Metro Atlanta/North Georgia/Georgia business community needs to step up to the plate and come up with new and innovative ways of raising revenue for pressing transportation needs that do not involve raising taxes and asking taxpayers to flush their hard-earned money down the toilet.

1 month, 2 weeks ago on Cousins looking for partner at 191 Peachtree as one performance indicator tops Wall Street forecast

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Having passenger trains and freight trains share the same trackage through Clayton County also is not the greatest idea.

Norfolk Southern is increasingly reluctant (if not loathe) to the idea of sharing their freight tracks with what could potentially be a high volume of passenger trains, particularly with the Port of Savannah poised to expand and continue its high rates of growth.

NS is most likely not going to agree to let passenger trains operate on its freight tracks when the company very well likely may need that trackage for increased freight operations in the not-too-distant future.

A county as urban and as densely populated as Clayton County needs BOTH heavy rail and commuter rail service, not just some low-frequency commuter rail service that is shared with freight trains on what is mostly a single-tracked freight rail line with increasing volumes of freight trains.

The proposal should be to extend heavy rail transit down to at least the Atlanta Motor Speedway (with commuter rail service continuing onto Middle Georgia) using private investment, real estate revenues and distance-based user fees.

The sales tax referendum is a good start, but it should be just that: a start, NOT the sole long-term/permanent source of revenue.

1 month, 2 weeks ago on Region’s rail backers watching Clayton County's MARTA vote

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@Burroughston Broch @The Last Democrat in Georgia  You are so very correct, sir.

It is the increased (and maximized) revenues from transit-owned transit-oriented real estate development (revenues from rents collected from large-scale transit-oriented development on transit-owned property) and distance-based user fees that can and will fund the higher level of transit service that this city, region and state so sorely (and desperately) need.

MARTA and other American urban transit agencies desperately need to start collecting revenue from transit-oriented real estate development as a means of funding a much-higher level of transit service....That's because taxes can (and will) only raise so much revenue.

Transit agencies like MARTA have a cap of how much revenue they can collect from taxes (taxes like the 1% sales tax that funds MARTA operations in Fulton and DeKalb counties...an agency like MARTA can basically only function off of what the tax collects limiting the amount and quality of service that can be provided)....But there is no cap to how much money transit agencies like MARTA can collect from transit-owned real estate development on transit-owned property along transit lines.

Transit-owned transit-oriented real estate development is key in helping to fund the high level of transit operations that the public so desperately needs and desires (security, cleanliness, safety, frequency of trains and buses, etc).

Without those revenues from large-scale transit-owned transit-oriented real estate development, large urban transit agencies like MARTA will continue to struggle financially and operationally.

1 month, 2 weeks ago on Region’s rail backers watching Clayton County's MARTA vote

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Georgia business interests will remain blowing in the wind and underserved by transit (and transportation in general) until they realize that private investment and user fees are the way to fund transportation needs.


1 month, 2 weeks ago on Region’s rail backers watching Clayton County's MARTA vote

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It is also critically important that MARTA continue to rehabilitate its financial position and its public image.  MARTA CEO Keith Parker has done a lot of good work to help rehab the traditionally troubled transit agency's poor public image and finances but the agency still has a heck of a lot more work to do to become a politically and financially viable option when it comes to talk of expanding passenger rail transit service into traditionally highly transit-averse areas like Gwinnett, Cobb and beyond.

It is critically important that Keith Parker continue on the course of leasing out the development rights of the land and space that MARTA owns at, around and above existing transit stations.  It is also critically important that the transit agency utilize this potentially potent financial tool to its maximum effect as a way to become financially self-sufficient and end its sole dependence on limited sales tax revenue in the not-too-distant future.

Becoming financially self-sufficient (and financially and operationally successful) would demonstrate that the agency was financially viable over the long-term and would make the agency much more politically viable for expansion into outlying areas that have traditionally dominated by highly transit-averse interests (...areas that remain in desperate need of transportation upgrades and alternatives because of continued high rates of population growth and limited road networks).

But trying to convince highly tax-averse voters in outlying areas like Cobb and Gwinnett who are understandably highly skeptical about the benefits of tax-funded public transit to vote themselves a tax increase to fund a mode of transportation that remains a financial loser is a total non-starter in areas outside of Fulton, DeKalb and Clayton counties.

1 month, 2 weeks ago on Region’s rail backers watching Clayton County's MARTA vote

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If Gwinnett business interests want to see passenger rail transit service expanded into Gwinnett County from Atlanta, they are going to have to use the Hong Kong model of transit funding which uses transit-owned transit-oriented development backed by private investment (and distance-based user fees) to fund transit construction and operations.

Until Georgia business interests and transit advocates (and transportation advocates in general) realize that private investment and distance-based user fees will fund a heck of a lot more transportation needs than the limited revenues from tax referendums in counties full of tax-averse voters ever will.


1 month, 2 weeks ago on Region’s rail backers watching Clayton County's MARTA vote

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The corridor between Downtown Atlanta and Lovejoy needs more than just commuter rail service....With Clayton County being such a heavily-populated urban county in need of increased economic development opportunities and logistical connectivity, the corridor between Downtown Atlanta and Lovejoy needs Heavy Rail Transit service.

Heavy Rail Transit service should operate between Downtown Atlanta and the Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton (which the Atlanta Motor Speedway is a significant event center with major events that can generate much additional traffic on area roads) and maybe even on down to Griffin in Spalding County.  Regional commuter rail service should operate between Downtown Atlanta and Middle Georgia by way of Macon, Warner Robins and Perry.

All passenger rail service should be self-funded with revenues from transit-oriented real estate development along transit lines so that passenger rail service can sustain itself financially and operationally over the long-term.

Regional commuter rail service on the existing NS freight rail line would be a good start, but it should not be the ultimate goal and there continue to be doubts as to whether the current plan (which depends heavily upon federal aid, has no source of continued funding for operations and is getting pushback from NS which wants to keep the current freight tracks available to transport increasing amounts of freight rail traffic) is even financially sustainable or even financially and logistically possible.

4 months ago on Commuter rail from Atlanta to Lovejoy is: 'The Little Engine That Could'

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"The longer government officials kick this can down the road, the worse that road becomes. These stall tactics are unsustainable, and they are a reflection of bad governing."

...You got that right, sister.

Good article, Ms. Long.

4 months, 4 weeks ago on Wanted: Leaders who make tough decisions on transportation funding

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@MikeTjax  I sure hope that they're just simply referring to "commuter" rail as MARTA heavy rail.

But with all of the talk of implementing actual commuter rail on the existing freight rail tracks with the limited funding that would be available, even with the proceeds from a 1% sales tax in Clayton County, I get the feeling that they are talking about commuter rail and not heavy rail.

5 months, 4 weeks ago on Clayton County’s transit tax vote could be set at special-call meeting Monday, on ballot in November

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This is good news....Joining MARTA and resuming local bus service will be a good start.

But over the long-term, being such an urbanized county, Clayton County needs more than just bus and/or commuter rail service.

Clayton County desperately needs Heavy Rail Transit service to operate through the county between the Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton in Henry County and the major job centers of the Northside.

6 months ago on Clayton County’s transit tax vote could be set at special-call meeting Monday, on ballot in November

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@whatshisface @The Last Democrat in Georgia  That is an excellent point that many commuters will purchase weekly and/or monthly passes.

But don't forget that Atlanta has a very-robust convention/corporate travel/tourism industry (...the Georgia World Congress Center is the 4th-largest convention center in the U.S.)...

...So many tourists, conventioneers, visitors and out-of-town users will be paying for single-trip fares when they're using MARTA. 

Though your point that many commuters will be utilizing weekly and/or monthly passes as frequent riders underscores the pressing need for the to aggressively sell more large and small sponsorships....Sponsorships in which sponsors will be rewarded with unlimited use of the system for varying time lengths according to the amount of money they agree to donate.

MARTA also needs to be much more assertive (if not aggressive) in its sales of weekly and monthly passes over the long-term as the system uses revenues from real estate development to improve, upgrade and expand over the long term.


6 months ago on MARTA looks to invite developers to build on top of its urban rail stations

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@whatshisface @Burroughston Broch  {{{"I kinda get your logic but the point still stand that MARTA, in it's current form, doesn't have the density or TODs to truly make it a viable commute option for most people."}}}

But despite the lack of density and TODs along transit lines, MARTA is still the 12th-busiest transit system in North America, 8th-busiest transit system in the U.S. and a relatively very-heavily used mode of transportation with an average of about 221,000 boardings per-day on its heavy rail system.

The addition of revenue-generating TODs along transit lines will only work to encourage increased ridership over the long-run....Increased ridership which in-turn will be further encouraged with the implementation of a distance-based fare structure which encourages more use of the system for shorter-distance trips between the increased Transit-Oriented Development along lines.

{{{"If you're willing to pay more for using MARTA then, by all means, donate that extra money you would've spent to the MARTA cause. You'll get a small tax-credit and help out society as a whole."}}}

In addition to real estate development (revenue-generating TODs along transit lines) and a distance-based fare structure, donations (in the form of the aggressive sales of sponsorships of all sizes to everyone from large corporations to individuals) are also an excellent way for MARTA to increase revenue.

- See more at: http://saportareport.com/blog/2014/06/marta-looks-to-invite-developers-to-build-on-top-of-rail-stations/comment-page-1/#comment-53841

6 months ago on MARTA looks to invite developers to build on top of its urban rail stations

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@whatshisface 

Distance-based fares are not a form of punishment for longer-distance riders. 

Distance-based fares are just simply a way to generate enough revenue so as to be able to adequately-fund longer-distance service.

(...Longer-distance trips like from the North Springs MARTA Station to the Airport and vice-versa where there currently is not enough revenue to operate Red Line trains south of Lindbergh after 9pm....Collecting more revenue from longer-distance trips would allow trains on the Red Line to continue operating south of Lindbergh until the end of the night.)

Distance-based fares are also a way to encourage increased use of a transit system for shorter-distance trips. 

In a distance-based fare structure of roughly $0.10-$0.40 per-mile ($0.10/mile for special groups, $0.20/mile for most regular trips and $0.40/mile for express and/or first-class service), fares would drop for shorter-distance rides...

...That's because with fares of $0.20/mile, one would have to ride 12.5 miles before paying the current flat-rate fare of $2.50 per-trip.

(...For special groups who would only have fares of $0.10 per-mile (economically-disadvantaged riders, children, senior citizens, students, people with disabilities, etc) one would have to ride 25 miles before paying the current flat-rate fare of $2.50 per-trip.)

A distance-based fare structure would be a vast improvement over the current flat-rate fare structure of $2.50 per-trip that discourages shorter-distance trips and collects too-little revenue from longer-distance trips.

- See more at: http://saportareport.com/blog/2014/06/marta-looks-to-invite-developers-to-build-on-top-of-rail-stations/comment-page-1/#comment-53841

6 months ago on MARTA looks to invite developers to build on top of its urban rail stations

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@Burroughston Broch @The Last Democrat in Georgia  A traditionally-troubled transit agency like MARTA can (and should) develop operational expertise at the same time while cultivating critically-important new streams of revenue from transit-oriented real estate development along transit lines.

Besides, just the fact that MARTA is inquiring about developing the property it owns at, around and above its stations signifies an exceptional level of competence that most likely has never been seen around the long-troubled transit agency.

MARTA also appears to be making these types of moves to generate large amounts of revenue from its property holdings as a way of setting the stage for future expansion into areas beyond its current service area of Fulton and DeKalb counties (most notably into Cobb and Gwinnett counties) without needing revenues from voter-approved countywide sales tax referendums.

6 months ago on MARTA looks to invite developers to build on top of its urban rail stations

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@Burroughston Broch @whatshisface  Sustainable means being able to operate without needing sizable taxpayer subsidies.

Mr. Broch, you are correct that no major North American transit systems operate without sizable subsidies.

But what MARTA is in the very-early stages of attempting to do has never been done on a large scale in North America.

What MARTA is in the very-early stages of doing is attempting to operate using the surprisingly little-used, but wildly-successful Hong Kong transit model.

The Hong Kong transit model is a transit-operating model that depends completely upon revenue from large-scale transit-oriented real estate development along transit lines to fund all capital and operating costs while still operating at a very-substantial profit.

Hong Kong's transit agency MTR, basically operates as one large real estate development corporation that uses transit to shuttle traffic to its numerous revenue-generating commercial developments.

Hong Kong has utilized this real estate development funding approach to great effect with its transit agency having total assets of over $250 BILLION (...compared to MARTA's current total assets of about -$2 billion (negative $2 billion)).

Hong Kong's MTR not only makes massive profits off of its large-scale real estate development at and around it transit stations...

...Hong Kong's MTR also makes extremely-healthy profits from the fares that it collects as Hong Kong's MTR has a farebox recovery ratio of 186%...meaning that Hong Kong's MTR covers 186% of its operating costs with its farebox revenues. 

(...Compare Hong Kong's farebox recovery ratio of 186% to MARTA's current farebox recovery ratio of about 30%.)

6 months ago on MARTA looks to invite developers to build on top of its urban rail stations

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@Burroughston Broch @The Last Democrat in Georgia @matthewdkingsley  With MARTA's historical operational blight (particularly in recent years), that kind of sentiment certainly is understandable (if one is not going to do it right, why do it at all?).

But the fact that MARTA is making very-serious inquiries into developing the space around and above its transit stations as a means to generate additional revenue and make the agency financially self-sustaining (something that should have been done from the start) signals that the long-troubled transit agency is finally headed in the right direction.

Besides, developing property at and around stations on a large scale can be a highly-productive cycle that builds upon itself with transit-owned real estate development generating ridership and revenue which funds improved transit service which generates more traffic to transit-owned real estate development which generates more revenue for transit operations, etc.

6 months ago on MARTA looks to invite developers to build on top of its urban rail stations

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@matthewdkingsley  Development of stations is a major priority because large-scale high-density mixed-use transit-oriented real estate development at stations generates much additional revenue for transit operations.

Large-scale transit-oriented real estate development at and around stations on transit-owned property generates additional operating revenue from property leases, increased ridership and property taxes...revenue which can be used to improve, upgrade and expand transit service as needed (decreased headways, newer vehicles, more bus  and train lines, etc).

...The more development there is at stations (and along transit lines), the higher the amount of revenue that is generated for transit operations...something which comes in handy for a transit agency like MARTA which has suffered from an acute lack of operating revenue in recent years.


6 months ago on MARTA looks to invite developers to build on top of its urban rail stations

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@atlman Excellent comments.

Though it should be noted that in this day and age where there continues to be a massive amount of migration into metro Atlanta from other states and where there is much heavy existing development and a large diverse population already living in outlying suburban counties like Cobb and Gwinnett, many blacks just simply move directly into outlying suburban counties like Cobb and Gwinnett (and Rockdale and Douglass and Henry and Newton and Paulding, etc) instead of moving into the suburbs after first living in predominantly-black areas like the City of Atlanta, Fulton, DeKalb and Clayton.

It could also be noted that most (but not all) of the black population in outlying counties like Cobb and Gwinnett is concentrated in roughly the southern-third of those counties and has in-effect become a geographical extension of the black population in Fulton and DeKalb counties.

(...The concentrated black population in South Cobb and Douglas counties is a geographical extension of the black population in West/Southwest Fulton County; the concentrated black population in South Gwinnett is a geographical extension of the black population in East/Southeast DeKalb County; the growing black population in Henry County is a geographical extension of the black population in Clayton and South DeKalb counties.) 

6 months ago on A transit tale of two counties - Clayton looks to MARTA; Cobb looks away

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@atlman @The Last Democrat in Georgia  I personally could care less who is right or wrong. 

I'm just warning residents in South Fulton and South DeKalb (and Clayton) counties that powerful suburban Northside business interests see a heck of a lot more value in rail transit service than they did in years' and decades' past when the concept of extending rail transit from the city into the suburbs was one that was politically and socially radioactive.

Now, you've got powerful business and real estate development interests on the politically-dominant Northside literally begging for transit service to be extended out from the city so that they can make tons more profit in a 21st Century real estate market where direct access to rail transit can mean tens-of-billions of dollars in increased values and revenues.

In the 21st Century business arena, direct rail transit access = monster real estate profits...something that makes MARTA an increasingly attractive target for Northside business interests which have long shunned rail transit service.

Southsiders need to be keenly aware that the political and social grip that they've had over MARTA for the last 40+ years is no longer assured in a climate where powerful Northsiders now see profit and political stability in having direct access to rail transit.

6 months ago on A transit tale of two counties - Clayton looks to MARTA; Cobb looks away

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@Guest @The Last Democrat in Georgia  Responding with video insults, burying your head in the sand and pretending that everything is "A-OKAY" is not going to help the residents of South Fulton, South DeKalb and Clayton counties.

The only thing that is going to help is to do what MARTA CEO Keith Parker is attempting to do which is attempt to get out in front of the situation the best way that one can so South Fulton, South DeKalb and Clayton counties can have a seat at the table and negotiate with the Northside power players from a position of strength....So that when the time comes for MARTA to transition from a two-county transit agency controlled by black Democrats in South Fulton and South DeKalb counties to a regional transit agency controlled directly by state government at the behest of Northside Republicans, Southsiders will not be shut-out of the process.

6 months ago on A transit tale of two counties - Clayton looks to MARTA; Cobb looks away

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Good column, Ms. Long....Keep up the good work!

6 months ago on Eric Cantor’s primary loss no cause for celebration for ‘do nothing’ Congress

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@atlman @The Last Democrat in Georgia 

{{{"Bottom line: the state created MARTA, has some oversight powers due to the terms of the MARTA creation law, but ultimately it does not own or control it. They cannot assume control over MARTA assets or true management of the system unless Fulton, DeKalb and Clayton (who will join in November) allows it to happen."}}}

Fulton, DeKalb and Clayton allowing the state to assume control over MARTA and operate it as a privatized entity under the GRTA banner is what is likely to happen...

...That's because Fulton, DeKalb and Clayton are in no position to fight-off hard-charging powerful Northside interests in North Fulton, North DeKalb, Cobb and Gwinnett, particularly if Fulton, DeKalb and Clayton counties stand to benefit with increased transit service and increased tax revenues.

Besides, Keith Parker's cultivation of new streams of revenue from Transit-Oriented Development at and around MARTA stations will give the Southside some degree of leverage when powerful Northside interests move to conduct a state takeover of MARTA...which will be much-sooner than many people might think, particularly if Nathan Deal gets re-elected.

(...If Deal gets re-elected, state government will likely move to takeover MARTA in his second-term as currently ultra-dominant Republicans will be looking to stay highly-competitive in a long-term political environment with a changing demographic tide that is going heavily in favor of Democrats...

...If Deal is not re-elected, any movement on a state takeover of MARTA will be delayed for an indefinite period of time as a GOP supermajority state legislature gridlocks and clashes with a Democratic Governor Jason Carter.)

Fulton especially would not put up any fight against a state takeover and privatization of MARTA as North Fulton Republicans (with the help of Buckhead Republicans and the GOP supermajority legislature) will likely re-draw the county commission district boundaries so that the GOP has at-least a 4-3 governing majority on the Fulton County Commission....Which will be possible because of the much-heavier population growth in North Fulton County than in South Fulton County.

(...There has even been talk of North Fulton Republicans redrawing the commission district boundaries so that the GOP has a 5-2 governing majority on the Fulton County Commission...which North Fulton Republicans are extremely serious about trying to takeover and dominate in lieu of not being able to recreate the defunct Milton County.)

....Which means that with a GOP majority in Fulton County government that Fulton County would not put up much (if any) of a fight against a state takeover and privatization of MARTA that North Fulton and North DeKalb Republicans are leading the way on.

It should also be noted that before Keith Parker took over the reigns as CEO, MARTA was in much more of a vulnerable position to be taken over and privatized by the state as the transit agency was operating with budget deficits and was teetering on the brink of financial collapse.

It is Parker's EXCELLENT early-on management of the transit agency (good fiscal stewardship and excellent relationship with a traditionally-hostile state legislature) that is the reason why MARTA was not taken over by the state on hostile terms as Northside interests were planning to do right around the time that Parker was hired as CEO.

With a good working relationship with what has often an ambivalent state legislature, Parker asked the state legislature to be patient and give him the time to turn-around the troubled transit agency both financially and operationally before making any moves to takeover and privatize MARTA.

Parker did not ask the state legislature to back-off with the expectation that his request would be enough to keep the state at-bay for an extended period of time.

Parker asked the state legislature to back-off from a takeover and privatization of MARTA so that he could have time to strengthen the bargaining and negotiating position of Southsiders (particularly South Fulton and South DeKalb Democrats) because Parker knows what is coming, which is a Northside-led state takeover of MARTA.

If MARTA's finances and operations are in order, there's a good chance that Southside interests (in South Fulton, South DeKalb and Clayton counties) will not be left-out in the cold when the Northside moves to fold MARTA into a largely-privatized regional agency (under the GRTA banner) where there will be a very-strong emphasis on expanding transit service throughout the Northside of the metro area (North Fulton, North DeKalb, Cobb and Gwinnett counties).

- See more at: http://saportareport.com/blog/2014/06/a-tale-of-two-counties-and-transit-clayton-looks-to-marta-cobb-looks-away/#sthash.0Qu4BrTs.dpuf

6 months ago on A transit tale of two counties - Clayton looks to MARTA; Cobb looks away

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@atlman @The Last Democrat in Georgia 

North Fulton and North DeKalb counties are not spitting-off from South Fulton and South DeKalb counties how much they theoreticize about it.

In lieu of spitting-off and forming a new Milton County (a process which state legislative leaders have openly stated they will not initiate or engage in because of the derision that would come from other parts of the state), North Fulton Republicans will attempt to take political control of Fulton County government and institutions (including MARTA) from South Fulton Democrats.

The takeover of Fulton County government by North Fulton Republicans means that only South DeKalb would be left to oppose a state takeover and sell-off of MARTA...and South DeKalb would be no challenge to an ultra-powerful political coalition of North Fulton, Cobb, Gwinnett and North DeKalb counties.

Also with the implementation of a distance-based fare structure (where fares would be charged by-the-mile and deeply-discounted to as low as only $0.10 per-mile for special groups) fares would actually drop dramatically for most of the economically-disadvantaged and transit-dependent....That's because with fares of only $0.10 per-mile, a passenger would have to ride 25 miles before paying the current flat-rate fare of $2.50 one-way.

Value Capture taxing districts (like self-taxing Community Improvement Districts, Tax Allocation Districts and Tax Increment Financing) would also most-likely collect substantially more in tax revenues than the current countywide 1% sales tax setup because Value Capture taxing districts can be setup to collect revenues from BOTH sales and property sales...as opposed to the current MARTA tax funding setup which only collects revenue from sales taxes.

Value Capture taxing districts can also be implemented without the approval of transit-averse voters in countywide referendums...which means that governments in counties like Cobb, Gwinnett, Clayton, Henry, Douglas, Rockdale, etc, can collect tax revenue for regional transit service without putting it to a vote and risking the request being rejected by transit-averse entities.

- See more at: http://saportareport.com/blog/2014/06/a-tale-of-two-counties-and-transit-clayton-looks-to-marta-cobb-looks-away/#sthash.MhzDeLRV.dpuf

6 months ago on A transit tale of two counties - Clayton looks to MARTA; Cobb looks away

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@atlman @The Last Democrat in Georgia  {{{"Fulton, DeKalb and Clayton would give up a powerful economic and political asset that is vital for a large portion of their voting for 1/100 on the dollar because "they are strapped for cash"? That is rich."}}}

South Fulton and South DeKalb counties (Clayton is not yet a member of MARTA) would not really have much choice politically...

...That's because South Fulton and South DeKalb counties would be opposed by an ultra-powerful coalition of political and business interests in North Fulton (including Buckhead), North DeKalb (including Dunwoody and Brookhaven), Cobb and Gwinnett counties and would not be able to justify to their constituents turning down the offer of dramatically-increased and expanded transit service (transit expansions through South DeKalb, etc) in order to have a long and costly court battle to retain an ineffective status quo.

{{{"What is also standard in these types of deals is A GOVERNMENT WILLING TO GO ALONG WITH IT. Georgia can pass all the laws that they want, but they can no more take MARTA from Fulton/DeKalb/Clayton than they will be to take a city hall building from Norcross or assume control of Cobb Energy Center and or the new Braves stadium."}}}

Since MARTA is a legislative creation of state government, the State of Georgia can take control of MARTA pretty easily, particularly if they can get South Fulton and South DeKalb to agree to it with the offer of increased transit service and increased tax revenue.

...The State of Georgia can also feel empowered and emboldened to take control of MARTA easily if they are feeling increasing pressure from politically-dominant moderate suburban voters to do something major on transportation.

6 months ago on A transit tale of two counties - Clayton looks to MARTA; Cobb looks away

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@atlman @The Last Democrat in Georgia  The state and the private investors wouldn't pay $100 billion to takeover the system. 

The state and the private investors would only pay a very-tiny fraction of that amount (maybe $1 billion, if that) to takeover the system and Fulton and DeKalb counties would likely happily take whatever they are given because like most local governments, they are strapped for cash.

...That is...the state and the private investors would only pay a very-tiny fraction of that $100 billion amount if they wanted to...

...The state would likely just create legislation so that it could takeover MARTA without paying anything more than the cost of increasing transit service in Fulton and DeKalb counties....And Fulton and DeKalb counties would gladly take it so that they could get the increased transit service in the form of new transit lines and expansions (GA 400 North, Top End I-285 Perimeter, Emory, etc), more frequent bus and train service, etc.

(...Also remember that it is Republican legislators in North Fulton and North DeKalb counties that are spearheading the state takeover and privatization effort so that North Fulton can get an expansion of rail transit service up the GA 400 and so that Dunwoody can get a rail transit line across the I-285 Top End Perimeter between Cobb and Gwinnett counties).

Private entities paying operating costs (and capital costs) are standard in these types of transportation infrastructure privatization deals....That's because the private entities want to be able to collect the real estate profits that operation of said transportation infrastructure will generate as soon as transit-oriented real estate development is built along transit lines.

Money will no longer be collected from 1% countywide sales taxes (like in Fulton and DeKalb) but will be collected from targeted Value Capture taxing districts that will only collect tax revenues (both sales and property taxes) from commercial property along transit lines (...the 1% sales tax that Fulton and DeKalb counties pay will be abolished in a private system as the bulk of the money will be collected from real estate revenues).

No court battles will be necessary as Fulton and DeKalb counties will happily go along with getting dramatically-increased amounts of transit service and increased tax revenues (from new revenue-generating development along transit lines).

6 months ago on A transit tale of two counties - Clayton looks to MARTA; Cobb looks away

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@John Hutcheson @The Last Democrat in Georgia  It depends on how the privatization deal and/or deals are structured and what role Fulton and DeKalb counties play in the process as to whether or not those counties are compensated....Keep in mind that a state takeover and privatization of MARTA is going to be a power-play by Northside business and real estate interests fronted by Republican legislators in North Fulton and North DeKalb counties (Cobb and Gwinnett Republican legislators will lend silent but very-strong support to the effort).

The state hasn't been willing to invest in the MARTA system thus far because up until very-recently, the system was not thought to have any financial value to the politically-powerful Northern suburbs.

Now that business and real estate interests in the Northern suburbs know that rail transit is worth TENS-OF-BILLIONS OF DOLLARS in real estate profits to them in a 21st Century real estate market, they are INTENSELY interested in investing in expanding rail transit out to their areas. 

6 months ago on A transit tale of two counties - Clayton looks to MARTA; Cobb looks away

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@John Hutcheson @The Last Democrat in Georgia  {{{"So the state will not invest in the system unless it is controlled by the state?"}}}

No...the state will not invest in the system unless it is controlled by the predominantly-white and conservative business and political interests in the Northern suburbs (Cobb, North Fulton, North DeKalb and Gwinnett counties) who control and dominate state government.

{{{"If the state controls the system, will it invest in better intra-city rail without destroying the livability of inter-city neighborhoods (like GA DOT has always wanted to do with highways)?"}}}

...It depends on whether liberal Intown/Southside interests in South Fulton and South DeKalb counties can get out in front of the situation (like Keith Parker and Clayton County are trying to do) and have a loud say in the state control/privatization process...

...Because if Intown/Southside interests in South Fulton and South DeKalb counties do not get out in front of what's coming, they could be shut-out of the process and left behind because of the huge amount of money that's at stake (we're talking real estate values of up to $100 BILLION or more after a privatized regional system is built-out).

6 months ago on A transit tale of two counties - Clayton looks to MARTA; Cobb looks away

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@atlman @The Last Democrat in Georgia  When the state decides to takeover MARTA and fold it into GRTA, the state will use the money from the private investors who want the system both for its current real estate assets and the financial value of its future real estate assets...financial value which will be in the tens-of-billions of dollars in a fast-growing market like the Atlanta region.

(...We're talking real estate values of up to $100 billion or more when a regional high-capacity passenger rail transit system is built-out....Good luck keeping real estate investors' voraciously profit-hungry hands off of that kind of money, LOL!)

Why do think that MARTA CEO Keith Parker is so busy trying to cultivate new streams of revenue from real estate development at and around stations?...

...Because Keith Parker knows what's coming down the pike, he's just trying to get out in front of it in the best way that he can so that political interests in South Fulton and South DeKalb counties won't lose total control of the situation to powerful business and political interests in North Fulton County (who desperately (and obsessively) want an expansion of Heavy Rail Transit service up the GA 400 to Windward Parkway much-sooner rather than later), Cobb, Gwinnett and the Northern suburbs who are not nearly as transit-averse as one might think....Particularly with their traffic problems continuing to worsen.

6 months ago on A transit tale of two counties - Clayton looks to MARTA; Cobb looks away

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@ScottNAtlanta @The Last Democrat in Georgia  It'll happen because Georgia Republicans are feeling the extreme heat on the transportation issue, an issue which they have largely badly-mishandled during their 12 years in power (...as demonstrated by former Governor Sonny Perdue's $15.5 billion "Fast-Forward" program which saddled GDOT with massive amounts of crippling debt, the 2011 Winter Storm, the I-85 HOT Lanes debacle, the 2012 T-SPLOST debacle and most recently the 2014 Snow Jam which severely-depressed Governor Deal's poll numbers during an election year).

If Republicans don't do something significantly (or massively) constructive and positive on transportation sooner rather than later, transportation will be the issue that takes their legislative supermajorities and statewide domination and turns them back to a shrinking minority party relegated to a semi-permanent minority status in a state where accelerating demographic shifts are not going the GOP's way.

As demonstrated by the aftermath of the 2014 Snow Jam, transportation is an issue that has the potential to sink the Georgia GOP and get them permanent banished from anything that even remotely smells of a governing majority, much less the virtually-unchallenged political power that they currently enjoy.

6 months ago on A transit tale of two counties - Clayton looks to MARTA; Cobb looks away

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The point of whether or not a historically tax and transit-averse suburban county like Cobb should join MARTA will likely be made moot within a few years...

...That's because the state will likely step-in, takeover MARTA and sell it off to private investors who will operate, improve, upgrade and expand it as a regional system under the banner of GRTA (instead of MARTA).

6 months ago on A transit tale of two counties - Clayton looks to MARTA; Cobb looks away

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@John Hutcheson  When Latinos are included in the tally of white residents, Cobb has a population that is 66% white.

But when Latinos are excluded from the tally of white residents, whites (specifically non-Hispanic/Latino whites) make up only 55% of Cobb County's population.

Most Cobb County voters opposed to the Bus Rapid Transit proposal are not opposed to transit so much as they are opposed to so much tax money (hundreds-of-millions of dollars of tax money) being spent on upgrading one line instead of spending much less tax money to upgrade Cobb County's entire bus system which is in need of improvements and upgrades, particularly in terms of needing more-frequent bus service and more route coverage.

6 months ago on A transit tale of two counties - Clayton looks to MARTA; Cobb looks away

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Leasing-out the development rights at, around and above MARTA stations is definitely a huge step in the right direction for MARTA.

When this approach is maximized there potentially could be tens-of-billions of dollars in revenue for the transit agency.

Wait-to-go, Mr. Parker.  Keep up the excellent work!

6 months, 1 week ago on MARTA looks to invite developers to build on top of its urban rail stations

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Georgia, like most other states, needs to quite being overdependent on the federal government for most of its transportation funding and start raising transportation funding on its own.

Georgia can and SHOULD raise its own transportation funding from long-overdue increases in state motor fuel taxes and private investment.

The feds can and will no longer afford to fund more than half of Georgia's transportation budget with borrowed money.

It is way past time that Georgia stand on its own two feet when it comes to multimodal transportation funding.

7 months, 1 week ago on Poll: Georgians want Congress to end impasse, fund roads, rails, transit

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