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The Atlanta Region’s Plan – Ready for Review

Transit in the Atlanta Region’s Plan

The Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) has released the draft of the Atlanta Region’s Plan for public review and comment. If you have opinions about the future of transit in the Atlanta Region, we encourage you to take a look at the planned transit projects.

The plan defines a 199 mile rail and bus rapid transit network. Approximately 50 miles exist today, with another 93 miles planned for implementation by 2040. The plan includes $12 billion in potential transit expansion projects. The transit expansion projects include Connect 400, Clifton Corridor, I-20 East, Clayton County High Capacity Transit, Connect Cobb, I-285 High Capacity Transit, and Beltline/Streetcar projects.

How can you have a voice in the process?

The public comment period is open now through January 15, 2016.  The ARC is conducting an online survey which highlights major transportation and land use elements of the plan: www.atlantaregional.com/theatlantaregionsplansurvey. You can also direct specific comments on the plan to [email protected]

ARC is also hosting several public meetings:

  • The Atlanta Region’s Plan Preview Reception – December 16, 2015 from 5:30 – 8:00 p.m.
  • The Atlanta Region’s Plan Open House – January 14, 2016 from 8:30 – 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 – 6:00 p.m.
  • Public Hearing: Transportation & Air Quality Meeting – January 14, 2016

All meetings will be held at 40 Courtland St NE, Atlanta, GA 30303.

You can learn more about The Atlanta Region’s Plan at www.atlantaregionsplan.com/ 

November Update from the ARC Regional Transit Committee

Did you know that the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) has a Regional Transit Committee (RTC) that meets every other month to talk about regional transit planning, funding and governance?

The RTC met last week to discuss grants, marketing, the regional transit website, and fare collection. Currently, the State Road and Tollway Authority (SRTA) and the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority (GRTA) are working together to administer the GO! Transit Capital Program, offering $75 million in General Obligation bond funds for transit capital projects. Applications are due January 31st, 2016 with awards in the summer. SRTA has long had funding available for road projects through the Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank, so we are happy to see a program for transit. The RTC approved a resolution for the ARC to apply for funding for regional bus stop signage on behalf of the regional agencies. If awarded, the grant would fund updates to signage for MARTA, Cobb Community Transit, Gwinnett County Transit, and GRTA. We look forward to seeing improvements to transit in Metro Atlanta as a result of this program.

ARC is also working on marketing regional transit, focusing on those who live within walking and driving distance of regional transit services. The campaign will market to Millennials in particular as a target audience. The goal will be to get potential transit riders thinking about the possibility of using transit and then to direct them to the regional transit website AtlTransit.org. The AtlTransit website is a joint effort of metro Atlanta’s transit agencies to provide a unified resource for transit customers. The site launched late last year and has seen recent updates, including real time arrival/schedule information, simplified fare and transfer information, and improved trip planner information. It will also be linked with the unified bus stop signage so that riders can use their phones to get information on the next bus arrivals. Improvements are still in the works, and we look forward to seeing how the site can make it easier to plan trips between multiple transit agencies.

You can explore the AtlTransit website here.

To Connect the Region, Let’s Advance Atlanta

The following article was published in the Saporta Report on September 21, 2015. 

In 1837, when the stake was driven in the Georgia ground to mark the founding of “Terminus,” the city that would become Atlanta began its life as a transportation hub. Today, the home of the world’s busiest airport still thrives as a center for transportation, but its local and regional roads are known more for traffic congestion and conduits for sprawl.

This reality impedes the ability of metro Atlanta to retain residents and companies, as well as attract new residents and businesses to our region.  It makes us less productive workers, less healthy people and less happy residents.

According to the latest Metro Atlanta Speaks survey from the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC), transportation challenges are a top concern for metro Atlanta residents, but the region also benefits from several positive ingredients: strong workforce density; a multi-centered, cultural renaissance and our transforming – but still skeletal – MARTA transit system.

We need to build on our strengths. Citizens around the region are ready to embrace smart solutions to better connect our lives and ease our stifling congestion. Currently, the areas of the region experiencing the greatest economic growth and rise in property values are prospering due to their proximity to transit. The developments around the Sandy Springs and Dunwoody MARTA stations, including the recently announced Mercedes-Benz and State Farm headquarters, are a prime example of this trend.

Across the country, both Millennials and Baby Boomers are voicing their desire for access to transit and walkable communities, and companies are seeking to recruit and retain top-tier talent by locating their offices in the kind of walkable communities that attract young workers.

We believe that if metro Atlanta is to remain competitive into the future, we will need to provide residents with a comprehensive transit system capable of moving people efficiently through the five core counties of Fulton, DeKalb, Cobb, Gwinnett and Clayton.

That’s why we have founded the Coalition to Advance Atlanta, a grassroots movement of advocates for a comprehensive regional transit system, capable of serving residents of the five core counties.  This coalition is informed by an understanding that legislators don’t make decisions in a vacuum.  The purpose of the Coalition to Advance Atlanta is to demonstrate to our legislators through organizing, grassroots advocacy, media activities and citizen-lobbying that metro Atlantans are ready for comprehensive and connected regional transit.

We can already see the region’s attitude toward transit shifting. In 2014, nearly 75 percent of the Clayton County electorate approved a referendum to expand MARTA into their community.  In Gwinnett County, a Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce poll revealed 63 percent of potential voters supported the expansion of MARTA into their community and 50 percent of those polled said a one-percent county sales tax should fund the expansion.  This emerging popular support needs to be managed and effectively communicated to decision-makers.

The Advance Atlanta coalition will be composed of all segments of the Atlanta region’s population. The coalition will work to harness the many, diverse voices of metro Atlantans, who want to live in a region that will not be undermined by congestion and inadequate infrastructure.

For too long, the debate surrounding comprehensive transit progress has been framed in a manner that pits us against each other.  Whether young vs. old, conservative vs. liberal or urban vs. suburban, these classifications are harmful and these debates fail to illuminate the universal benefits of transit.  The truth is we can no longer view ourselves as independent counties and cities when it comes to transportation and economic development. We will succeed or fail as a metro region.

To build that infrastructure, we need to develop a vision that can be translated to policy, increased funding and ultimately, timely construction. The Coalition to Advance Atlanta seeks to unite citizens’ voices in a shared vision to do just that.  As 2015 comes to a close, and 2016 offers the potential of a ballot initiative for additional MARTA funding in Fulton and DeKalb counties, we will be working hard to unite supporters of regional transit and to provide a platform for those who wish to join the conversation.

The Coalition to Advance Atlanta is just getting started. We invite all metro Atlantans to join us at  advanceatlanta.com.