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@kevinalynch Those are excellent points.

Though, many of those historic railroad towns and suburbs that surround Atlanta (particularly the historic railroad towns and bedroom communities in Atlanta's very heavily-populated Northern suburbs) do not necessarily just want commuter rail service.

Many outlying historic railroad towns and bedroom communities in Atlanta's suburbs like Alpharetta and Woodstock want high-capacity passenger rail transit service (preferably reformed post-MARTA regional heavy rail transit service) connections in their cities.

11 minutes ago on Atlanta’s small towns being redefined through principles of new urbanism

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@Burroughston Broch @The Last Democrat in Georgia I didn't "choose" any words. I stated the fact that the area inside of Speaker Ralston's legislative district and much of the North Georgia Mountains region is not a geographic region that tends towards affluence, but one that tends towards economic struggle much of the time.

The North Georgia Mountains region has traditionally struggled mightily with poverty and high unemployment (hence the construction of the GA 515 APD Highway as one of the ways to attempt to combat that severe rural poverty of the Southern Appalachians) and continues to struggle mightily with poverty and a lack of employment opportunities, particularly in the aftermath of one of the worst economic downturns in recent American history.

The unemployment rate numbers for Speaker Ralston's district that you cited don't present an accurate picture of the unemployment situation in that area because those official numbers don't count the long-term unemployed (the people who have dropped out of workforce because they could not find work).  That is evidenced by the substantial difference in the amount of people participating in the workforce between July '07 when the construction industry was still going somewhat relatively strong with vacation homes being built in the North Georgia Mountains and now when the vacation home construction industry is much weaker after an extended period of virtually no activity in that particular industry and significantly diminished economic activity in much of the North Georgia Mountains region. 

I also don't have to draw a contrast between the sparsely-populated overwhelmingly rural and mountainous area of Speaker Ralston's legislative district in extreme North Georgia and the very heavily-populated, overdeveloped and often-overcrowded urban and suburban districts of Metro Atlanta. 

The obvious contrasts between the two vastly-different areas speak for themselves and are important to understanding why Metro Atlanta's urban transportation issues may be of the least concern to Speaker Ralston's rural-dominated constituency.

For whatever reason, you seem to be personally offended with the statement of the fact that the area inside of Speaker Ralston's legislative district and in the North Georgia Mountains region struggles with poverty and high unemployment.

Curiously, you don't seem to have a problem when the fact is stated that parts of Metro Atlanta (particularly the City of Atlanta) struggle with high levels of poverty and unemployment, but you do have a problem when the fact is stated that the rural North Georgia Mountains region historically has struggled and continues to struggle with high levels of poverty and unemployment. 

The statement that the rural mountainous area inside of Speaker Ralston's struggles with high rates of poverty and high employment is not an "insult" and is very-much correct as the last I looked, above-average poverty rates of over 20% and REAL unemployment rates of nearly 17% do not exactly fit the definition of low levels of poverty and unemployment.

The statistics I quoted were from the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Federal Reserve.

17 hours, 19 minutes ago on Technology can improve transit but not replace new network investment

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@Burroughston Broch @The Last Democrat in Georgia {{{"The Speaker should not be City of Atlanta-centric because the City of Atlanta is less than 4.5% of Georgia's population."}}}

The City of Atlanta, even with all of its many, many faults and even with being less than 4.5% of the state's population, is still the most-important municipality in the state of Georgia and will continue to be the most-important municipality in the state of Georgia because of its tremendous assets (the world's busiest airport, the lucrative Downtown convention & tourism business, the powerful business-minded community of movers-and-shakers in Buckhead, etc).

As a self-described country lawyer from the rural North Georgia Mountains, Speaker Ralston most-likely can never be accused of being "City of Atlanta-centric", even if he may possess a MARTA card, which comes in extremely-handy if one has to move between Downtown and Midtown and/or Buckhead during peak traffic hours.

Speaker Ralston's problem is not just that he must be careful not to appear as being "City of Atlanta-centric", but also that he must be careful not to cross across as being too "Metro Atlanta-centric" in a part of the state in rural mountainous extreme North Georgia where the locals are not always enamored with Atlanta period (city, metro, urban, suburban, exurban or otherwise) because of their continuing rural economic struggles.

For a man of Georgia House Speaker David Ralston's stature in statewide politics, it's easy to come across to his sometimes Atlanta-averse rural constituents as being too "Atlanta-centric" if only because Metro Atlanta-related issues and politics take up so much time and energy in the Georgia General Assembly and in statewide politics in general.

1 day, 2 hours ago on Technology can improve transit but not replace new network investment

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@Burroughston Broch @The Last Democrat in Georgia No one is throwing insults and no one is demeaning Speaker Ralston's constituents.

The official unemployment rates may be lower in each of the counties that make up Speaker Ralston's legislative district (Georgia State House District 7), but the unemployment rates are likely the result of a shrinkage in the size of the workforce in each of those counties.

Just in Fannin County alone (where the unemployment rate was calculated as 7.6% in February 2014), the size of the county's workforce shrunk from a high of 11,152 people in July 2007 down to a size of 10,072 people in February 2014.

Those 1,080 additional people that were part of the Fannin County workforce as of July 2007 didn't just disappear into thin air, they likely left the workforce because they could not find jobs.  When those 1,080 people are figured into the workforce numbers, the REAL unemployment rate that accounts for people who have dropped out of the workforce because they could not find work is much-closer to 17% than it is 7%.

The unemployment rate and poverty rate stats and figures for Dawson County can hardly be considered in full as Speaker Ralston's legislative district only encompasses the extreme northwest portion of Dawson County, but encompasses the entirety of Fannin and Gilmer counties.

Dawson County, most of which is not within Speaker Ralston's legislative district, also has much more wealth than Fannin and Gilmer counties because of the higher level of wealth and affluence in the Big Canoe development (half of which is in Speaker Ralston's district) and the higher level of wealth and affluence found in the upscale neighborhoods along the Lake Lanier shoreline (which outside of the boundaries of Speaker Ralston's legislative district).

Outside of a couple of enclaves of affluence in the Big Canoe development and along the Lake Lanier shoreline in the southeast corner of the county, Dawson County is not necessarily a very-wealthy county.

Also, with poverty rates of 20.1% in Fannin County and 20.4% in Gilmer County, poverty rates that are above the Georgia statewide poverty rate of 17.4% as opposed to the Fulton County poverty rate of 16.8% which is below the GA statewide poverty rate of 17.4%, the poverty rates in Fannin and Gilmer counties are not just "only slightly higher than" Fulton County's poverty rate of 16.8%.

Fulton County's poverty rate of 16.8%, while still very-high, is below the GA statewide poverty rate of 17.4%.  Fannin and Gilmer counties' poverty rates are about 3 points above the GA statewide poverty rate of 17.4% and about 3.3% and 3.6%, respectively, above Fulton County's poverty rate of 16.8%.

When it comes to poverty, three percentages points is not a slight difference.  Three percentage points is a substantive difference when it comes to measuring poverty, particularly when the lower poverty rate is below the statewide rate and the higher poverty rates are noticeably above the statewide rate.

Also, Fulton County's per-capita income of $37,238/yearly is the highest per-capita income in the entire state of Georgia and is nearly twice the amount of Fannin County's per-capita income of $19,865/yearly which is 63rd-highest in the state of Georgia.

Fulton County also is home to more millionaires and more high-paying jobs than any other county in the entire state of Georgia and probably any other county in the entire Southeastern U.S. outside of South Florida.

To even imply that two overwhelmingly-rural and lower income-earning mountain counties in the extreme north end of the state are even in the same league economically as Fulton County, the wealthiest county in the state, is completely disingenuous on your part.

Heck, the only four-lane highway that runs through both Fannin and Gilmer counties (the GA 515 Zell Miller Mountain Parkway/Appalachian Development Highway) was built through that area of mountainous North Georgia with the express intent of being a way to attempt to combat the high level of poverty in that area which is part of Southern Appalachia by attempting to make the area less-isolated from the prosperous Atlanta metro region.

Stating the fact that the area within Speaker Ralston's legislative district struggles mightily with high poverty and unemployment is NOT demeaning, it is REALITY.

Stating the fact that the area within Speaker Ralston's legislative district struggles mightily with high poverty and unemployment and illustrating the differences in the priorities of those who live in rural mountainous North Georgia and those who live in metro Atlanta is also important because it provides insight into why metro Atlanta's urban transportation issues may be of the absolute least concern to Speaker Ralston's constituency.

People who may be struggling for basic survival in the rural North Georgia Mountains are probably not going to be overly-concerned with metro Atlanta's traffic issues that have been caused by too much economic success when compared to isolated rural parts of the state. 

1 day, 3 hours ago on Technology can improve transit but not replace new network investment

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@Burroughston Broch @The Last Democrat in Georgia Basically, Parker's early success in getting MARTA back into the black financially could be the equivalent of letting a pig fatten itself up before being slaughtered.

The state is also planning to use mostly private investment to build-out the proposed MMPT in Downtown Atlanta.

2 days ago on A MARTA story: Why the state never contributed funding – from day one

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@Burroughston Broch @The Last Democrat in Georgia Before Keith Parker came in and starting having success as CEO of MARTA, Northside interests were already seriously plotting to have the state takeover MARTA and sell it off to private investors.

Keith Parker's early relative success as CEO of the long-struggling MARTA kind of bought the agency and its ITP/Southside supporters some time, but not necessarily very-much time.

If anything, Parker's success in getting the long-troubled transit agency back into the black could likely be used by Northside business interests to increase the attractiveness of the agency's assets for an eventual deal for the state to takeover the agency and sell it off to private investors as was increasingly plotted before Parker's arrival and early success at MARTA.

Besides, the supposed risk of having the government as both a partner and a regulator has not been a deterrent on other big-time P3 arrangements such as the $800 million I-75 Northwest Corridor managed lanes project which is using about $200 million in financing from a limited P3 partnership, and the $1.83 billion Chicago Skyway and $3.8 billion Indiana Toll Road deals which are both FULL P3 partnerships.

2 days ago on A MARTA story: Why the state never contributed funding – from day one

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@Burroughston Broch @The Last Democrat in Georgia A similar financing concept will also be coming to roads in the not-too-distant future.

Georgia's Interstate and freeway system could probably fetch somewhere in the neighborhood of $20 billion or so on the open market for 75-year leases.

$20 billion would be a massive financial shot-in-the-arm to a state whose yearly road maintenance budget is down to about $300 million annually.

When put in an account and distributed evenly over the 75 years, that $20 billion would amount to an extra $267 million in road maintenance funding each year for the next 75 years.

The State of Georgia's road maintenance budget would nearly double each year to $567 million, none of which would have to spent on Interstates and freeways anymore because the state would no longer be responsible for paying to operate and maintain the freeways anymore. 

The responsibility for paying to operate and maintain the freeways would belong to the private companies who were leasing the freeways from the state.

That means that $567 million yearly state road maintenance budget ($300 million annually from the current non inflation-indexed state fuel tax + $267 million annually from the S20 billion 75-year lease deal) could be spent entirely on non controlled-access roads and highways.  The controlled-access highways (Interstate superhighways, non-Interstate superhighways, super-arterial highways) would be self-funded and would no-longer need state funding.

2 days ago on A MARTA story: Why the state never contributed funding – from day one

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@Burroughston Broch @The Last Democrat in Georgia

{{{"Let me predict you believe that, given enough urban planners and lawyers with unlimited powers, all things are possible."}}}

...It's not me that has the mindset that you speak of.  It's the business and real estate interests in Cobb, North Fulton and Gwinnett counties that have that mindset as those are the three parts of the metro area that want heavy rail transit service (MARTA, post-MARTA or otherwise) expanded out to and implemented through their areas the most.

Cobb, North Fulton and Gwinnett counties are also the three areas with the most money, the power, financial resources, political resources and long-term financial and political will to get heavy rail transit service expanded out to and implemented through their areas.

The business and real estate interests in Cobb, North Fulton and Gwinnett counties desperately want heavy rail transit service expanded out to their areas as a means of boosting the commercial real estate values in their areas.  Those business and real estate interests in those areas will stop at nothing to get the heavy rail links that they so intensely desire to Central Atlanta and the world-leading Atlanta Airport. 

Those Northside business and real estate interests know that having direct heavy rail transit links to the lucrative convention and tourism business in Central Atlanta and the world's busiest airport at Hartsfield will boost the monetary values of their currently un-linked commercial districts in Cumberland, Alpharetta and the Gwinnett Village CID areas through the roof and into the stratosphere.

The Olympics made this a new game.  This whole thing over MARTA and heavy rail and T-SPLOST, etc is about big-time real estate investment.

...Well, not just real estate, but big-time INTERNATIONAL real estate investment.  Anyone who has not recognized that this is all about money and power is fooling themselves. 

Northside business and real estate interests don't want heavy rail service extended out from the Perimeter to ferry poor people around from inner-city Atlanta.

Northside business and real estate interests want heavy rail service extended out from the Top End Perimeter (and along the Top End Perimeter) so that they can boost their investment portfolios and fatten their pockets.

Do you really think that the big boys care one iota whether some struggling smaller private owner loses their commercial property in the quest for even bigger massive real estate profits?

Do you really think that the big boys on the Northside are just going to continue to sit around and let something as immensely financially valuable as MARTA rot and decay from incompetence, neglect and just plain outright ignorance and stupidity?

The big boys on the Northside are not going to continue to let BILLIONS of dollars in real estate profit sit on the table untouched.

One day very-soon they are going to fully grasp the concept of for-profit transit and when they do, MARTA as we currently know it (as a perennially almost-bankrupt publicly-operated transit agency controlled by black and liberal interests in South Fulton and South DeKalb counties) will be a thing of the past.

2 days, 1 hour ago on A MARTA story: Why the state never contributed funding – from day one

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@Burroughston Broch @The Last Democrat in Georgia {{{"You propose taking private land by eminent domain and then selling the land off to private investors to build and operate the transit system and adjacent residential and commercial developments.  When Hell freezes over! We have enough cases of eminent domain abuse for a dozen lifetimes."}}}

...I don't personally propose taking private land by eminent domain. 

But because the rail transit line extensions will be public lines (the right-of-way will still be publicly-owned, but the private investors will be paying to maintain the ROW through long-term leases in exchange for keeping all of the revenues from passenger rail operations and the adjacent real estate development), eminent domain will be in play if and where necessary like it is for land acquisition of public road projects (which a publicly-owned passenger railroad is in effect a public "road" like the Georgia state-owned but CSX-leased Western & Atlantic Railroad between Atlanta and Chattanooga), that's just the cold, hard political reality of public transportation infrastructure projects.

And the ownership of the land will not be sold away to the private investors, just the right to control and collect revenue from the land will be sold away through long-term land leases like on the Georgia state-owned CSX-leased Western & Atlantic Railroad right-of-way between Atlanta and Chattanooga which is being leased by CSX Transportation from the State of Georgia on a 33-year deal that expires on December 31, 2019.

Also, as unpleasant as it may be and as unpleasant as it is, the practice of taking land through eminent domain from one set of private owners and giving it to other private interests is legal and was ruled so by the United States Supreme Court in 2005 in the case of Kelo v. City of New London, CT. 

In the case, the court ruled that it was legal for the City of New London, CT to use eminent domain to take land away from private owners and give it to other private owners for the construction of a new urban waterfront development/redevelopment project.

{{{"And how would you propose to control the private, for-profit transit system?"}}}

...The public would still own and have the ultimate control over the privatized for-profit public transportation system through the terms of the term-lease deal out to the private entity, it's just that the public would no-longer be responsible for the costs of designing, constructing, operating, maintaining and expanding the system.  The private entity would be responsible for paying those costs in exchange for getting to keep all of the revenues it collects from the transit system and its prime real estate assets.

{{{"Georgia Power never figured it out, which is part of the reason we now have MARTA."}}}

...The problem with Georgia Power (and MARTA, and GDOT, and CCT and GCT, and C-Tran, etc) is that it (they) never figured-out that it's not the transit itself that is profitable but is the real estate that the transit serves that makes transit profitable.

As has been so vividly-illustrated with the continuing Herculean financial and operational struggles of MARTA and most other public transportation agencies across the U.S., there's absolutely NO money in operating trains and buses alone.

In fact, the transit business itself can just simply be a money-sucking liability, particularly if it is operated incompetently and disasterously as both MARTA and GDOT have been operated over the past couple of decades or so.  Heck, public transportation (both roads and transit) is a multi-billion dollar LOSER when operated in the worst possible way that it can be operated as has been the case with both MARTA and GDOT.

No private business could survive for such an extended period of time in the way that public agencies like MARTA and GDOT have been operated.  The only reason why entities like MARTA and GDOT have continued operating despite such intensely-incompetent management is because they are public agencies funded with a mix of wholly-inadequate tax revenue and severely-heavy borrowing.

If MARTA and GDOT were private businesses they would have gone belly-up years ago and much more-competently run private businesses would have taken their place and probably provided a much better service.


2 days, 1 hour ago on A MARTA story: Why the state never contributed funding – from day one

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@Just the Facts Good comments and good points. 

In the remote and extremely-rural and mountainous part of the state that Georgia House Speaker David Ralston represents, the plight of MARTA and Atlanta's urban transportation network is not even a distant concern of Sam Snider and the constituents that he seeks to represent in the Georgia House of Representatives.

In a very-rural and very-conservative part of the state that struggles mightily with high poverty and unemployment, a political figure of statewide importance like Georgia House Speaker David Ralston has to be very-careful to not come-off as appearing to be too Atlanta-centric where Atlanta (both urban and suburban, but especially the city) is not necessarily all that popular with the local electorate. 

2 days, 8 hours ago on Technology can improve transit but not replace new network investment

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Good article, Ms. Long.  Keep up the good work and keep growing as a journalist.

2 days, 8 hours ago on Technology can improve transit but not replace new network investment

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Good article, Mr. Baxter.

Your article describing the slower-growth and slowed-growth of the greater Atlanta region and the continuing and steepening decline of rural Georgia kind of underscores the point of why it is important to invest in a robust multimodal transportation infrastructure which includes a statewide network of good roads, high-speed rail lines (of both the passenger rail and freight rail variety), airports and seaports.

By no means is a robust statewide multimodal transportation network the panacea to all of Georgia's economic challenges. 

But a robust statewide multimodal transportation network can go a very-long way in helping urban, suburban, exurban and rural Georgia confront and even overcome its great economic challenges.

2 days, 10 hours ago on Sprawl minus growth equals where we could be headed

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@Burroughston Broch @The Last Democrat in Georgia {{{"You're avoiding the point a bit. A large capital investment is required to construct transit. This investment is required long before user fees, value capture taxes, CIDs, TADS, advertising, and fares generate any income. How do you propose to pay for the initial construction without bonds?"}}}

...You pay for the initial construction without bonds by selling the project off of private investors.

You're going to need land to build the passenger rail stations (and accompanying park & ride lots) on...land which will likely be taken through Eminent Domain if necessary.  So you line up your private investors and you sell that land off to those private investors whose interest in the rail transit extension project will be primarily in the amount of revenue (and profits) that will be generated from the large-scale high-density mixed-use transit-oriented real estate development built at and around stations and along the line.

You can also just sell the rail transit extension project (which will be a real estate development project first and foremost in the minds of private investors and financiers) off to private investors and make the public transit company a private corporation.  The transit company will still be providing a public service, but that public transit service will be largely directly privately funded and financed.

Direct private investment or Public-Private Partnerships/P3s (by selling a public infrastructure project off to private investors) is just a different (and more direct) way of financing large infrastructure projects than bonds which are sold off to private investors.

P3s can be a much more effective way of using private money than bonds because P3s can provide private investors with a much more direct and bigger monetary reward than bonds.

Private investors can get their money back much more directly and much more quickly on P3s than they can through the traditional bond market, particularly on projects that have a direct revenue stream coming into them like real estate and utilities.

When public transportation infrastructure projects are developed as revenue-generating real estate development projects (like when a transit line generates a high amount of revenue from the farebox and the real estate along it, or when a busy controlled-access super-arterial or superhighway corridor has inflation-indexed tolls placed on it), public transportation infrastructure projects become highly-attractive places for private investors to want to grow their money.

It makes no sense for a Capitalist society (with lots of monetary capital EVERYWHERE) to operate its highly-valuable and critically-important transportation system on a severely cash-deficient and bankrupting Marxist model, which is basically what we are trying to do now...run our transportation system with little to no cash and an unsustainable amount of borrowing.

You can't build something with nothing.  Transportation (roads, transit, seaports, airports, etc) needs money to operate like anything else in this world.

{{{"Speaking of CIDs and TADs, have you seen any capable of paying for a MARTA extension?"}}}

...Keeping-in-mind that Value Capture taxes (CIDs, TADs, TIFs) alone would not and absolutely should not be the only source of revenue (a distance-based fare structure and funding from high-density mixed-use transit-oriented real estate development at and around stations and along bus routes should ALWAYS be two major revenue sources), two great examples of existing CIDs that could help fund MARTA extensions are:

1) The Cumberland/Galleria CID in Cobb County, which is already taxing itself to help pay for the new Braves stadium in the Cumberland area...

...With Cobb County business and real estate interests wanting to implement high-capacity passenger rail transit service up the U.S. Highway 41 Cobb Parkway corridor, the current self-taxing Cumberland CID could easily be extended up the Cobb Parkway corridor to Kennesaw and/or Acworth so that a portion of property, sales and (if desired) even income taxes could go to funding mass transit service along the US 41 corridor WITHOUT a politically-contentions and politically-unviable countywide sales tax referendum to join MARTA...

Here are some links to some maps and studies that Cobb County has done to push the eventual development of high-capacity passenger rail transit service in the US 41 Cobb Pkwy corridor:

https://transportationspotlight.wordpress.com/category/studies/connect-cobb-alternatives-analysis/

http://www.junctionatl.org/what-to-build-in-the-northwest-corridor/

2) The Gwinnett Village CID in Gwinnett County, which wants to implement high-capacity passenger rail transit service along the I-85 Northeast Corridor between the Doraville MARTA Station and the Gwinnett Center convention/performing arts/entertainment complex (and maybe even out to the Mall of Georgia/Buford area)...

...The Gwinnett Village CID would be more than willing to tax itself to help extend high-capacity passenger rail transit service (MARTA, post-MARTA, or otherwise) out from the Doraville MARTA Station and into fast-growing Gwinnett County.

Here is a link to a map of the proposed light rail line that Gwinnett County business and real estate interests want to implement along the I-85 NE Corridor in Gwinnett County, a light rail line that will likely be a heavy rail line whenever it is built and become operational:

http://www.gwinnettvillage.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Presentation-Map-Revised-compressed.jpg

2 days, 15 hours ago on A MARTA story: Why the state never contributed funding – from day one

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@Burroughston Broch @Rees Cramer {{{"So show us the plans for the fully built system. A connection to the International Terminal was planned as a start for a branch but, in typical MARTA clarity of thought, never built."}}}

...Here's a link to a map of the original plans for MARTA which were drawn up sometime in the late 1950's-early 1960's...note that the earliest plans to build-out the MARTA heavy rail system included plans to run heavy rail lines out to Downtown Marietta in Cobb County, out to Norcross in Gwinnett County and out to Forest Park in Clayton County:

http://homer.gsu.edu/blogs/library/2012/10/10/%e2%80%9cplanning-atlanta%e2%80%9d-shows-past-illustrations-of-future-redevelopment/atlpp0079_page_27-3/

Here is a link to another later map of a MARTA system that included a Northwest spur line out to Northside Drive off of the North/Northeast-South Line:

http://www.nycsubway.org/wiki/MARTA_Provisions


3 days, 5 hours ago on A MARTA story: Why the state never contributed funding – from day one

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@Burroughston Broch @The Last Democrat in Georgia {{{"Bonds are not income, they are financing vehicles like mortgages. They are used to finance assets that cannot be paid in full out of current income."}}}

...Exactly...That's the whole point...Bonds are not income, but government apparently doesn't seem to understand that fact by how heavily they tend to lean on bonds without the proper amount of revenue to cover those bonds.

{{{"Are you telling me you've never had a mortgage?"}}}

...Very recent history is chock full of examples of people who took out mortgages that they could not afford to pay back over time on their modest personal incomes.

{{{"How do you propose to pay for transit improvements?"}}}

...Basically like I stated before, with private investment (primarily in the form of revenues from large-scale real estate transactions) backed with user fees (in the form of distance-based fares). 

If necessary, Value Capture taxes (Tax Increment Financing property taxes on new development along transit lines; self-taxing Community Improvement Districts and Tax Allocation Districts...as opposed to politically-impossible voter referendum-approved countywide sales taxes) can fill-in any remaining gaps in revenue, as needed.

Advertising sales can also become a much more significant source of revenue after system ridership increases.

3 days, 8 hours ago on A MARTA story: Why the state never contributed funding – from day one

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@Burroughston Broch @The Last Democrat in Georgia {{{"Please explain why long term, low interest, tax exempt bonds are an unsustainable form of funding for state and local governments."}}}

...Bonds are an unsustainable form of funding for government because bonds are basically loans that are expected to be paid back in full and on time no matter how much revenue a government may actually have on hand to repay them.

Just like it is not wise for individuals and private citizens to gain all or even most of their personal income from loans and credit, it is also unwise for government to do the same.

Just like personal loans and credit (which should only be used for modest and important individual purchases that are within one's financial means), bond funding should only be utilized on a limited basis for important public expenses.

Bonds and borrowing should not be the centerpiece of government budgets, which has become the case with a government agency like GDOT (where a noticeable majority of the budget goes to debt service on past projects because the state has long collected too little in road funding revenue) or for an entity like the federal government who is currently in debt to the tune of nearly $17 TRILLION and counting because much the same practice of intentionally collecting too little in revenue and funding many services and expenses that it does not necessarily need to fund.

GDOT's debt situation is so bad that it threatens to eat up the state's entire road maintenance budget at some point in the not-too-distant future.

We cannot borrow more than we take in forever.  At some point, we will actually have to deal in cash.  Why not start doing so now before the situation reaches full-blown crisis level?

{{{"At the end of the day the taxpayers pay for the roads, regardless of the accounting path the money takes and whether it came from fuel taxes or income taxes"}}}

....That's a good point.  It's not necessarily the fault of the taxpayer that the government does not take in anywhere near enough revenue to pay for the roads from taxes and user fees.

But these mostly borrowed transportation budgets will not continue on forever.  We are getting very-close to the point where we are going to have to both pay the cost of today's transportation costs and payback yesterday's transportation costs.

The billions of dollars in money that a government agency like GDOT borrowed in years past means that we have less transportation funding today and tomorrow if we continue on the same worn-out path of not collecting the proper amount of transportation revenues and not properly leveraging our transportation assets.

There's no reason why fuel taxes should not be indexed to inflation so as to much more adequately cover maintenance costs and there's no reason why we should be spending preciously-limited fuel tax revenue on so-called "freeways" that are more than capable of paying for their own costs with revenues from user fees.

I can't believe that transit advocates actually want to use fuel taxes to fund transit when fuel taxes don't even come close to adequately funding the costs of maintaining the road network that fuel taxes are intended to pay for.

3 days, 11 hours ago on A MARTA story: Why the state never contributed funding – from day one

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@Burroughston Broch @Rees Cramer Actually a major part of the problem is that the taxes we pay don't come close to funding the full cost of constructing and maintaining the road network.

The road network may get more funding than transit, but roads only get just slightly more funding than transit overall.

That's because our taxes (federal and state fuel taxes, local property taxes and vehicle registration fees) only fund between 25-50% of the costs of the road network.  The rest of the cost of the road network is funded with very-heavy borrowing from both domestic and foreign sources, a source of road funding that is unsustainable over the long-run and maybe over the intermediate term.

It's not our fault as taxpayers that the taxes we pay does not come close to covering the full cost of constructing and maintaining the road network.

The federal government did not peg the federal motor fuel tax to inflation and has not raised it since 1993 when it last raised it to its current rate of 18.4 cents-per-gallon.

And I think that the last time that the State of Georgia raised its state motor fuel tax (which also is not pegged to inflation to keep up with road construction and maintenance costs) was maybe 1983 when the current state constitution was ratified, though it may have been longer than that since Georgia's motor fuel taxes were last raised.

Heck, part of Georgia's state motor fuel tax does not even go towards road maintenance, but goes straight into the state's general fund.  Because of this, there has been a push to redirect that part of the state's fuel taxes that go into the general fund into the state's road network which is in danger of running out of money because the fuel tax is not pegged to inflation while vehicles continue to become more fuel efficient.

Because vehicles are continuing to become more fuel efficient, the funding ability of federal and state fuel taxes would be diminishing anyways.  But the fact that federal and state fuel taxes are not pegged to inflation makes the diminishing funding power of those fuel taxes even more severe.

4 days, 8 hours ago on A MARTA story: Why the state never contributed funding – from day one

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@mariasaporta @The Last Democrat in Georgia@1Downtown10 {{{"One can't expect a skeletal, underfunded MARTA system to accomplish that feat on its own - no matter how good its management may be."}}}

...Actually, Ms. Saporta, one could expect MARTA to accomplish the feat of remaking itself into a much more robust transit system on its own with good and competent management.

MARTA could initiate the process of becoming a much more robust transit system on its own by aggressively selling-off (through for-profit out-leases) its prime real estate holdings at, above and around its stations for the construction of lucrative revenue-generating large-scale high-quality high-density mixed-use transit-oriented development.

MARTA CEO Keith Parker has already initiated this process, but the transit agency needs to be much more aggressive in cultivating what will be an extremely-lucrative revenue stream in large-scale high-quality mixed-use transit-oriented development at and around stations.

Large-scale real estate development along transit lines is a revenue stream that has the ability to subsidize fares; fund a very-high level of transit service, operations and maintenance; and fund system expansions as-needed and as desired.

(...With large-scale real estate development, we're likely talking about billions of dollars in revenues for a transit agency that has teetered on the brink of financial collapse in recent years.) 

After initiating the process of becoming a much more robust transit system on its own by aggressively selling-off its prime real estate holdings, MARTA could then continue the process of becoming a much more robust transit system by instituting an inflation-indexed distance-based fare structure of roughly $0.20 per-mile in 2014 dollars (with discounts of $0.10 per-mile for economically-disadvantaged groups and with fares of no more than $0.30 per-mile in)

An inflation-indexed distance-based fare structure would generate more operating revenues at the farebox by encouraging much more use of the system for shorter trips (as one would have to ride 12.5 miles before paying the current trip fare of $2.50 under a distance-based fare structure of $0.20 per-mile) and collecting enough revenue to much more adequately fund longer trips and expansions.

4 days, 10 hours ago on A MARTA story: Why the state never contributed funding – from day one

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@mariasaporta @The Last Democrat in Georgia@1Downtown10

{{{"We are long overdue for the state and the region to begin contributing their fair share so we can have a much more robust transit system that will only make our region more competitive."}}}

...I don't necessarily disagree with this point, Ms. Saporta, it's just that Intowners, ITPers and Fulton and DeKalb residents have to comprehend and understand that if the state and the region begin contributing financially to MARTA, they are going to want A LOT more political and financial control over MARTA than Intowners, ITPers and Fulton and DeKalb residents would likely be comfortable with.

If the state and the region start contributing money to MARTA on the scale that Intowners and ITPers want, they are not going to just give money to MARTA without expecting anything in return. 

In particular, Northside Republicans in Cobb, North Fulton, North DeKalb and Gwinnett counties are going to want to takeover full political control of MARTA from South Fulton and DeKalb counties...

...And part of that Northside suburban takeover of political control of MARTA is most likely going to include selling the MARTA system and its lucrative assets off to private investors...that's just the political reality of the situation.


4 days, 11 hours ago on A MARTA story: Why the state never contributed funding – from day one

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@mariasaporta @The Last Democrat in Georgia@1Downtown10 {{{"It all comes back to MARTA never having had the kind of broad support from financial partners it needed to have strong regional transit system — that includes the state and the regional counties outside of Fulton and DeKalb. Believe me, the state and the rest of the region has benefitted tremendously economically  by having a MARTA system in place."}}}

...Ms. Saporta, that is an excellent point that the state of Georgia and the rest of the Atlanta region has benefitted tremendously economically from the existence of MARTA.

But as I mentioned before, MARTA did not need to have broad financial support from the state and outlying regional counties (particularly Clayton, Cobb and Gwinnett counties) to have a strong regional transit system.  Heck, MARTA did not even need the state and outlying regional counties as financial partners to have a strong regional transit system.

If MARTA was only allowed to operate in Fulton and DeKalb counties, then all that MARTA needed to do was operate in Fulton and DeKalb counties to the best of its ability.

Just by simply having prime real estate holdings in some of the most heavily-populated parts of Fulton and DeKalb counties and the ability to collect fares, MARTA has always had the ability to financially support itself without further assistance from an often-incompetent and inept state government and hostile suburban counties.

It's just that MARTA has never leveraged its prime real estate and fare collection assets properly.

The only real blame that lies with the state is that it did not force MARTA to properly leverage its prime real estate and fare collection assets to maximize revenue from the beginning. 

But then again how could the state be expected to force MARTA to properly leverage its prime real estate and fare collection assets to maximize revenue when the state doesn't properly leverage its own prime real estate assets in regards to properly funding the operations and upkeep of the road network it is responsible for.


4 days, 12 hours ago on A MARTA story: Why the state never contributed funding – from day one

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@mariasaporta @The Last Democrat in Georgia@1Downtown10 ...Those are all excellent points, Ms. Saporta, particularly your point that the entire community benefits greatly from the presence of mass transit.

{{{"When transit fares reach a level where they are so expensive, people will not ride it - causing less revenue for a system and all the negative consequences that come with it.  That's why cities and countries across the world, and states across our country, have chosen to invest in public transit - to help keep fares low enough so more people will ride it."}}}

...This is an excellent point, Ms. Saporta. 

Though under a distance-based fare structure where fares are indexed to inflation so that operating costs are always much more fully funded, the idea is not to make fares so expensive that people will not and cannot pay them.

Under an inflation-indexed distance-based fare structure where was collected at $0.20 per-mile instead of a flat $2.50 one-way no matter the distance, the idea is to collect fares much more effectively so that more operating revenue is collected from shorter-distance trips (by encouraging an increased amount of shorter-distance trips with fares that are lower than the current $2.50 one-way fare for those who travel fewer than 12.5 miles) and enough revenue is collected to help more adequately fund longer-distance trips and expansions (by collecting more fare revenue from longer-distance trips).

{{{"That's why cities and countries across the world, and states across our country, have chosen to invest in public transit - to help keep fares low enough so more people will ride it."}}}

...This is another excellent point as it is important to keep fares low so that people will ride mass transit.

But it is also important to provide a high level of service so that people will want to ride public transit and it is impossible to provide the high level of service that attracts riders if a transit agency does not collect enough revenue from the farebox and real estate revenues (from revenue-generating large-scale mixed-use transit-oriented development at and around stations, targeted Value Capture taxes, advertising revenues, etc). 

It is also important to note that county-by-county voter referendum-approved countywide sales taxes are not the only way for a transit agency to collect operating revenue. 

Countywide voter referendum-approved sales taxes can be a good source of startup funding for a transit system, but a transit system should not be dependent upon it for continued operating revenue as a 1% county-by-county voter referendum-approved countywide sales tax is not the only way to fund continued transit operations. 

Transit operations can be funded much more effectively with a robust mix of revenues from:

...Private investment (most notably real estate revenues from lucrative revenue-generating large-scale high-density mixed-use transit-oriented development at and around transit stations)...

...An inflation-indexed distance-based fare structure of roughly about $0.20 per-mile in 2014 dollars...  

...Targeted Value Capture taxes (Tax Increment Financing property taxes targeted to new development that pops up along transit lines; self-taxing Community Improvement Districts; Tax Allocation Districts).

...Value Capture taxes are much easier to implement than countywide sales taxes that need the approval of tax-averse and government expansion-averse voters because Value Capture taxes often don't need voter approval and they are targeted only at commercial development that lies along transit lines. 

Nor is a 1% county-by-county voter referendum-approved countywide sales tax the only way to fund the startup and expansion of transit operations. 

For a transit system in a very fast-growing large major metro region like Atlanta, private investment would likely be the best means of funding the expansion of transit operations at this point in time, particularly since revenues from voter-approved 1% sales taxes and state financial support are so exceptionally-difficult to come by.

4 days, 12 hours ago on A MARTA story: Why the state never contributed funding – from day one

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@atlman @Burroughston Broch@Rees Cramer {{{"MARTA has not had the resources for major expansion since it was originally built in the 1970s and without help from the state they are not going to get it. That is the whole point."}}}

...And the reason why MARTA has not had the resources for major expansion since it was originally built is because MARTA itself chose not to obtain the financial resources needed for proper upkeep and as-needed expansion.

It was MARTA that chose not to collect enough in revenue from the farebox and from its extremely-valuable real estate assets.

It was MARTA that intentionally depressed its fare structure and revenues from external sources like real estate development while basically demanding that the state fund its operations, maintenance and expansion.

MARTA does not need financial help from the state and has never needed financial help from the State of Georgia (which itself collects entirely too little in revenue to properly operate and maintain the road network).

With the farebox and the its prime real estate holdings at and around its stations, MARTA has always had the financial resources it needed to operate at a much-higher level and expand as-needed and as-desired.

It's just that MARTA itself chose not to properly utilize its valuable assets and the State of Georgia chose not to make MARTA properly utilize its valuable assets so that the transit agency could become self-supporting and profitable as needed.

Contrary to local popular belief, being self-supporting and profitable is not something that is optional. 

Being financially self-supporting, self-sustaining and profitable is a NECESSITY.

As we are now witnessing, if a transit agency like MARTA is not financially, self-supporting, self-sustainable and profitable, it eventually shrivels up and dies, particularly in this low-tax political environment where state government uses being low-tax as an excuse not to collect enough operating revenues from private investment and user fees.

4 days, 15 hours ago on A MARTA story: Why the state never contributed funding – from day one

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@atlman @The Last Democrat in Georgia {{{"And as I stated earlier, getting routine operating expenses from the state is not the goal of any MARTA backer but the welfare rights activist crowd. But getting state support to expand MARTA into North Fulton, south DeKalb, Emory/CDC and into Clayton County (if the referendum passes in November as expected) and ultimately into south Cobb to accommodate the Braves traffic nightmare should be done."}}}

...Those are good points, but one thing that MARTA supporters have to understand is that any state money to expand MARTA would likely have to come from the private sector at this point. 

That's because the money to expand MARTA to the places you named just simply does not exist within the state's coffers at this point in time.

Because, like MARTA, the state has collected entirely too little in operating revenue, the state is quickly running out of the money needed just to perform routine maintenance on the road network. 

With the amount of money needed to maintain the road network dwindling, the state most certainly does not have the money to pay for expansion of MARTA.

The only way that the state could get the money to pay to expand MARTA would be to take control of MARTA and sell it off to private investors who would be interested in developing the system's extremely-valuable real estate assets at and around its stations.

If MARTA wants to upgrade and expand its transit service without a state takeover of the agency, MARTA is going to have to come up with the money to upgrade and expand on its own by instituting a distance-based fare structure and selling off its real estate assets (through profitable term-leases) to private investors for the construction of large-scale high-density mixed-use transit-oriented development at and around its stations.

{{{" ITP people are going to have to pay plenty of their tax dollars to support the expanding of the Savannah port. So why should not the state do the same for MARTA, which is just as important to the state's economic picture as the port?"}}}

....The state is not going to do the same for MARTA because:

1) The state does not have the money to pay for expanding MARTA without taking it over and selling it off to private investors...

2) Conservative transit-averse suburban, exurban and rural voters outside of Fulton and DeKalb counties will not allow the state to spend existing tax revenues on a mode of transportation and an urban transit agency that they either are highly-skeptical of (due to MARTA's historically-poor operational and financial performance) or just outright dislike with a passion.

Though, those highly transit-averse suburban, exurban and rural voters would allow and even support the state getting the money to support MARTA by taking over MARTA and selling it off to private investors, especially if it means their outer-suburban, exurban and rural areas might get some kind of economic benefit out of the deal with the expansion of passenger rail service to economically-struggling outlying areas around the state.

4 days, 15 hours ago on A MARTA story: Why the state never contributed funding – from day one

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@atlman @The Last Democrat in Georgia

{{{"Oh please. GOPers and white flight suburbanites have been trying to take over and sell MARTA AND Hartsfield for decades. They only stopped trying to take over Hartsfield when the city obtained an expert legal opinion that the state would have to pay billions for the land and facilities. And it was only a last minute intervention from Keith Parker that caused Mike Jacobs to pull his bill that would have privatized much of MARTA in the 2013 legislative session."}}}

...Some notable elements in state government (most notably in North Fulton and North DeKalb counties) may have wanted to takeover MARTA and Hartsfield.  But those North suburban elements in state government have never really been serious about taking over Hartsfield. 

If those North suburban elements had been serious about taking over Hartsfield, they could have and would have easily gained the billions of dollars to take possession of the airport from the private sector.

And those North suburban elements in state government have only very-recently gotten serious about taking over MARTA when the transit agency went into what appeared to be a fatalistic state of steep decline toward financial collapse.

If the state was really serious about taking over MARTA, they could very-easily have done it many years ago with private money.  It's just that Georgia state officials (like most American officials) have had no real understanding of the critically-important concept of using private investment to finance and fund major transportation infrastructure projects up until very-recently.

Despite the low-tax rhetoric of conservative politicians, those conservative politicians still think that the only way to finance and fund major transportation infrastructure projects is through the conventional means of being solely dependent upon extremely-limited sales tax and property tax revenues.

But the real way (particularly in a low-tax political environment, but also in higher-tax political environments) to finance and fund major transportation infrastructure projects is with private investment and user fees.

With Hartsfield-Jackson being the busiest airfield on the entire planet, finding private investors who would provide the billions of dollars needed for the state to take the airport from the city would not be a problem.  Investors would literally be tripping all over themselves to finance such a deal that would likely be very-lucrative for them.

The North suburban state government political elements in North Fulton and North DeKalb counties just simply been too ignorant, lazy and incompetent to put together such a simple financial deal to takeover either the airport or MARTA up to this point.

- See more at: http://saportareport.com/blog/2014/04/a-marta-story-why-the-state-never-allocated-money-from-day-one/comment-page-1/#sthash.S52wIWlc.dpuf

4 days, 16 hours ago on A MARTA story: Why the state never contributed funding – from day one

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@Rees Cramer @Burroughston Broch {{{"Actually it (MARTA) does just fine, for a half built system that is taken advantage of and used by the suburban critic as the example of urban decay."}}} 

...Under Keith Parker's leadership, MARTA has begun to get on the right track fiscally and operationally.  But with the agency bleeding cash, with ridership in steep decline, and with routes and service suffering steep cuts, the state of MARTA in recent years cannot exactly be described as "just fine".

{{{"When the tax or toll is on the driving commuter causing the congestion it is penalty while when it is on the single mother of three who has no car it is a user fee.  We can just apply that $ 0.20 per mile distance based toll on the driver of each car that uses the freeway through Atlanta."}}} 

...This statement is symbolic of the type of thinking that has led MARTA to the brink of total financial collapse in recent years.....The thinking, even amongst MARTA's most ardent and loyal supporters, that MARTA public transit service should basically be aimed at serving the riders who are the poorest of the poor first-and-foremost.

Ensuring that our poorest citizens (particularly those who cannot afford private vehicles) have a way to get around is an honorable thing. 

But it does those low-income transit-dependent riders no good if the transit service they depend on financially collapses and ceases operation due to a severe lack of operating revenue.

{{{"We can just apply that $ 0.20 per mile distance based toll on the driver of each car that uses the freeway through Atlanta."}}}

...Distance-based user fees and tolling on Atlanta area freeways is an excellent idea. 

But the implementation of such tolling on freeways should not be to punish drivers, but to properly fund the operations and maintenance of the freeway network while encouraging higher levels of transit use by the commuting public where applicable in urban areas where road space is limited.

Also, with the I-85 HOT Lanes operating in DeKalb and Gwinnett counties, distance-based tolling is already in effect in metro Atlanta to the extent that HOT Lanes users pay as much as $0.50 per-mile during rush hours and peak-hours.

There are also plans to eventually expand the variable distance-based tolling model to all stretches and all lanes of the freeway system in metro Atlanta as a way of much more adequately funding the operations and maintenance of superhighways and encouraging increased mass transit use over the long-term.

Under such a universal distance-based tolling system on all controlled-access sections of highway, HOT Lanes and Managed Express lanes would continue to tolled at a much-higher rate during rush hours and peak hours while general purpose lanes would be tolled at anywhere in a range of between $0.03 per-mile during off-peak hours to $0.10 per-mile during peak traffic hours in 2014 dollars.

Business vehicles (corporate vehicles, trucks, etc) would be exempt from variable tolling and would only have to pay a fixed distance-based toll (of no more than $0.06 per-mile in 2014 dollars).

{{{"If Marta is to be such a self supporting and profitable entity than so should your precious "freeways"."}}}

...While I wholeheartedly agree with your remark that "freeways" (which are not really free) should also be self-supporting and profitable entities, you do know that MARTA being self-supporting and profitable would be a good thing, right?  

MARTA being self-supporting and profitable would mean that the agency would not have to beg a highly-incompetent transit-averse Georgia Legislature and highly-skeptical voters in surrounding counties for crumbs in hopes of staying solvent enough to keep operating at a modest level, much less be solvent enough to upgrade and expand urban transit service on the large-scale that it is needed.

{{{"You are not going to like it much when you really start paying the true cost of the road you use."}}}

...As I've alluded to before, the whole idea of implementing distance-based user fees on important pieces of transportation infrastructure (distance-based tolls on roads and fares on transit) is not to punish commuters or make transportation users dislike commuting.

The purpose of implementing distance-based user fees on roads and transit is to help much more adequately and fully fund the design, construction, operations, maintenance and as-needed improvement and expansion of critically-important pieces of transportation infrastructure.


5 days, 6 hours ago on A MARTA story: Why the state never contributed funding – from day one

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@Rees Cramer {{{"How about Atlanta, Fulton, and DeKalb residents get a better fair since we are paying for the system that suburban riders use.  We pay two dollars that pay 3.50."}}} 

...A better idea would be to phase-out the 1% countywide sales tax that is paid on most sales transactions in Fulton and DeKalb (and likely soon-to-be Clayton) counties...(...keep-in-mind that residents of other counties and states also pay the 1% sales tax that funds MARTA when they shop or make a sales purchase in Fulton and DeKalb counties...Also keep-in-mind that residents of other counties help fund MARTA when they pay a fare to ride MARTA).

The 1% sales tax would be phased-out by lessening MARTA's overdependence on the 1% sales tax by:

...Implementing a distance-based fare structure of about $0.20-per-mile in 2014 dollars (so that transit users would have to ride 12.5 miles before paying the current one-way fare of $2.50, helping the agency to collect more in farebox revenues from both shorter rides (by encouraging more shorter trips) and longer trips (by helping to fund longer trips and system expansions))...

...Vastly increasing the amount of revenue that the agency takes in directly from high-quality, high-density mixed-use transit-oriented development at and around its stations...

...Eventually eliminating the 1% sales tax and replacing it with revenues from Value Capture taxes (revenues from property taxes on new and existing development along transit lines).

{{{"I also think a congestion charge should be levied on people who drive into the city."}}}

...Funding transportation should NOT be about penalizing or punishing people who have to commute into one geographical area from other municipalities and geographical areas.

Funding transportation should be about collecting enough in revenue from ALL transportation users to adequately (or even more than adequately) fund the costs of operating and maintaining as needed critical pieces of public transportation infrastructure.

Instead of levying a congestion charge only on people who must drive into the city for work, shopping, socializing, etc (all important sources of revenue for the City of Atlanta) as a form of punishment or penalty on those who drive into the city, a much better idea is to encourage higher levels of transit use in a road-limited metro region and better fund transportation infrastructure operating and maintenance costs by implementing various levels of congestion pricing on ALL controlled-access roadways (in the form of cash-back variable electronic tolls on grade-separated highways that rise and fall with the amount of traffic on the roadway).

1 week ago on A MARTA story: Why the state never contributed funding – from day one

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Intowners and ITPers may think that they want the state to fund MARTA's operating expenses, but do they REALLY truly want the state to fund MARTA's operating expenses?

Because "state funding" of MARTA's operating expenses in this political environment would most likely involve a state takeover of MARTA and a subsequent sale of MARTA to international private investors.

Intowners and ITPers should be careful what they ask for, because they just might get it...

1 week, 1 day ago on A MARTA story: Why the state never contributed funding – from day one

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@1Downtown10 {{{"I hope this article will help the State understand the consequences of continuing to hold mass transit back.  Our future as a regional powerhouse depends on this mass transit."}}}

...I agree that mass transit will play a major role in our future as a regional powerhouse.  I also agree that state funding of MARTA would be nice. 

But it is not the State of Georgia that has been holding MARTA back, it is MARTA that has been holding itself back by not collecting enough in operating revenue at the farebox (by way of a distance-based fare structure) and by not collecting enough operating revenues from sources other than the 1% sales tax that it collects in Fulton and DeKalb counties.

If from its inception MARTA had been collecting revenues from its property holdings at and around its stations and along many of its bus routes (with the development of high-density mixed-use transit-oriented real estate development at and around its stations and along its bus routes), we most likely would not be having this conversation right now.

Instead we would likely be talking about expanding high-capacity passenger rail transit service to such outlying areas as Rome, Gainesville, Athens, Dalton, Macon, Columbus and the like.

It is MARTA which has made a conscious decision to completely starve itself of critical operating revenues by not properly and adequately harnessing revenue streams from the farebox and its extensive real estate holdings during an era of an explosive economic and population boom in metro Atlanta.

1 week, 1 day ago on A MARTA story: Why the state never contributed funding – from day one

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@Guest808 I don't think that Ted Turner was in control of the Braves anymore when the current TV deal was signed.  In fact, I think that the current TV deal was signed years after he had lost control of the team and the organization.

3 weeks, 5 days ago on Ted Turner: ‘I wouldn’t have moved the Braves to Cobb County’

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@Wishing for Milton County {{{"Why is it that ARC is so focused on downtown Atlanta[?]"}}}

It's not necessarily just the ARC that is so focused on Downtown Atlanta, but most importantly it is also the State of Georgia (by way of the Georgia Department of Transportation) that is focused on building a major MMPT in Downtown Atlanta. 

GDOT is so focused on Downtown Atlanta because Five Points is the current hub and an important intersecting point for the 2 existing north-south and 2 existing east-west MARTA lines. 

Downtown Atlanta is also a focal point of Georgia's sports, entertainment, hotel and convention business as the Georgia World Congress Center is the 4th-largest convention facility on the North American continent.  Downtown Atlanta is also home to one of the largest clusters of hotel space on the continent. 

The Gulch area, Five Points and Downtown Atlanta was also a historical focal point for regional, interurban and interstate passenger trains in the pre-World War II heyday of passenger rail travel in the U.S.


{{{"WHO OWNS THE PROPERTY that this waste of taxpayer money is going pay for [?]"}}}

From what I understand, the State of Georgia (by way of the Georgia Department of Transportation) owns the land that the MMPT is slated to be constructed on in the future.

Also, from all indications, the plans seem to be quickly evolving to where the project will be paid mostly with money from the high-density, high-rise mixed-use commercial development that is planned to go up on and around the site of the future MMPT.

There will most likely be no choice but to fund the construction of the MMPT with private funds from real estate development at and around the site because the money to fund the project any other way just simply does not exist within state coffers and likely is never going to exist within state coffers from existing sources.


{{{"You cannot get to the "gulch" during the day.  There is no direct route.  MARTA is so poorly run that they can't even sync the trains when a basketball game is at Phillips Arena......I believe I read where the railroads are not keen to letting commuter traffic on "their" tracks."}}}

These are good points and these are also reasons why the state will have no choice but to build new rail capacity throughout metro Atlanta and North Georgia (in the form of new passenger rail-only tracks) if the new MMPT at the Gulch is to be able to be served by new passenger trains.

...Because there is not enough existing rail capacity to operate high volumes of both passenger rail and freight rail traffic at the same time as will be needed.


{{{"We have the largest airport in the world.  Train tracks run right across from it.  Focus on getting folks to & from the airport.......Especially local citizens who can't use rapid transportation (MARTA) to get to the INTERNATIONAL TERMINAL.  That planning was so bad.  What makes anyone at ARC think we trust them to plan the MULTIMODAL TRANSPORTATION HUB to NOWHERE!!!!!!"}}}

These are also really good points and some really good reasons why a second MMPT should and most likely will be constructed at or near the airport at some point in this evolving process as it continues to unfold.

It should also be noted that there are also very-early plans just beginning to emerge to extend some type of heavy rail transit service to the International Terminal side of the Atlanta Airport (especially with Clayton County expected to vote to join MARTA in November).

Though we should all keep-in-mind that these plans to implement passenger rail transit service on a much-larger scale throughout the Atlanta region and North Georgia are still in the very-early, infantile stages of development.

At this point, it will be many, many, many years before any of these passenger rail expansion plans come to existence.

By the time any of these plans actually come into being, this city, this metro area and this society will be very-different places. 

We're talking about a metro Atlanta where 8-10 million or more people will possibly be living, the state government will likely be very-different (urban and minority interests will be likely be dominant), MARTA will have evolved into something else much different and the freeways will have likely become impassable during much of the day by the time this thing is built.

...It will most-assuredly be very-different place and a very-different time by the time this thing becomes fully-operational.

4 weeks, 1 day ago on Traffic relief, transit upgrades funded in ARC’s five-year spending plan

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@BethS I agree.  Good stuff, Mr. Baxter.

1 month ago on Bo Callaway and the crossroads of modern Georgia history

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