62, 66 and 73. 1957, 1996, and 2016. Remember those numbers.

To be a transit-enthusiast in metro Atlanta is a position often fraught with disappointment and frustration. It is certainly not for the faint of heart, nor those who are not prepared for a constant, uphill battle. However, from the point of view of this eternal optimist, the tide seems to be turning (as I continue to hold my breath, and furiously “knock on wood”).

As a Sandy Springs native, MARTA trains and buses were constants in my childhood, yet only viewed from the window of a car. It was only after four years in Washington, DC that I realized cities were meant to be experienced on foot, bike, bus, or train, and not, as had been my singular experience, behind the wheel of a car from parking lot A to parking lot B. After returning to Atlanta for graduate school in 2011, residing in Midtown was the logical choice in order to maintain the newfound transportation independence and quality of life to which I had grown accustomed. Just take one look at the Atlanta Business Chronicle, or the cranes that dot the skyline, and clearly the business community agrees.

Heartbreak after TSPLOST’s defeat in 2012 ultimately led to my involvement with Advance Atlanta, and the 12 other like-minded individuals who comprise our Board of Directors. Our traction with metro Atlanta residents, the business community, civic leaders, and elected officials has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my adult life, ultimately leading to the passage of SB 369 a mere 3 hours prior to the close of the 2016 Georgia General Assembly session (this is complicated work for those of us prone to anxiety).

For those unfamiliar, SB 369 offers the City of Atlanta the opportunity to ask its residents for a ½-penny tax increase this November for the purpose of funding a massive expansion of transit within the City limits unlike any this region has seen since MARTA’s inception in the 1970s. Advance Atlanta supported the initial vision of Senator Brandon Beach, SB 313, which would have allowed all of Fulton and DeKalb counties to vote on an even more extensive $8 billion expansion. However, due to obstructionism by an extreme minority of elected officials from North Fulton county (against the evidence of current polling), only the 450,000 residents of the City of Atlanta (as opposed to the approximately 2 million residents of Fulton and DeKalb) will get the historic opportunity for the additional transit we so desperately need and want.

Make no mistake, transit expansion inside the city limits will be a complete game changer for what is consistently described as one of most sprawling and poorly designed cities in America. While the project list will not be completely finalized until this summer, it will likely include some combination of light-rail on the BeltLine (which many of us thought was decades away from becoming a reality), the expansion of the Streetcar outside of Downtown, and infill stations on current MARTA lines.

Ultimately, the success of this expansion will not only benefit the City of Atlanta, but will strengthen the case for growth into Cobb and Gwinnett counties as density builds and demand increases. Currently, the voices calling for transit outside of the urban core have been drowned out by the naysayers. For the opposition to change their tune, they’ll have to feel the prolonged pain of businesses and residents leaving those communities for a more transit-rich environment (which is already occurring, just not to the degree needed for a complete change in attitude).

If you have walked the streets of Midtown and seen the numerous cranes in the sky, driven through Central Perimeter and noticed the Fortune 1000 businesses within a half-mile of MARTA stations, or walked the BeltLine through previously forgotten neighborhoods (which now boast townhomes that cost in the mid- to high six figures), then you understand how connectivity can transform a region.  Now, think about what happens to our City when $2.5 billion is invested in the largest expansion of transit since MARTA’s establishment.  For those of you who lament that Atlanta is not as easily traversed as cities such as Chicago, San Francisco, or Boston, now is your chance to make a difference.

Even if you are not a regular MARTA rider, or even a resident of the City, you have a stake in this.  Proximity to transit increases property values, attracts businesses, and injects culture and walkability into a City’s fabric. One of the reasons that I love Atlanta so much is that we do not have a fully formed identity. Unlike the more established Northeastern cities in this country, we are experiencing growing pains, and still coming into our own. To me, that is extremely exciting, and allows residents to have a much more active role in shaping what we will become. This City is a very different place than during my childhood. On all fronts – culture, business, vibrancy, food, music, and art – we are firing on all cylinders like we never have before. The last piece of the puzzle is a more easily navigable community. Mark my words – the best and the brightest will only put up with mediocrity on that front for so long before leaving for greener pastures. We have put up with extreme traffic for so long that we have collective Stockholm Syndrome. This is a wake-up call – easy and healthy transportation options are not a privilege of a select few Northeast and West Coast metropolises – they are human rights, and we need to expect nothing less from our own beloved City.

Oh, right, those numbers I mentioned:  62 percent of metro Atlanta views MARTA favorably, 66 percent of Fulton and DeKalb county residents favor dealing with traffic congestion by improving transit, not roads, and a whopping 73 percent would vote for a tax increase to fund transit expansion.

In 1957, our airport became the busiest in the world; 1996 is when Atlanta hosted the Centennial Olympic Games; and 2016 is the year that Atlanta takes its next giant leap onto the world’s stage by voting to expand transit this November. If you love this City, and support its continued progress, join the Advance Atlanta movement.

Joey Kline is the Treasurer and a Board Member with Advance Atlanta and he is a Commercial Real Estate Broker with Jones Lang LaSalle.

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The History of MARTA

Transit 101: How MARTA became MARTA

MARTA is engrained in the fabric of Atlanta. The system’s routes and rail have shaped the story of our region and influenced development.  However, few Atlantans know the history of MARTA and the challenges it has and continues to face today.

MARTA is primarily funded via fare collections and a 1% sales tax levied in Fulton, DeKalb, and Clayton counties, in addition to a limited pool of federal funds.  

Atlanta benefits from the eighth-largest transit system in the United States by ridership.  In 2014, approximately 440,000 daily riders relied on MARTA’s trains and buses for transportation.  As of 2014, MARTA ranked 6th in the U.S. for average daily riders per rail station (9,915 riders), following New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Washington DC, and San Francisco.  The system is comprised of 38 rail stations that cover 48 miles of track in Fulton and DeKalb counties. But, MARTA’s original vision called for a network that reached far beyond its current footprint.

The proposal for a system linking the burgeoning region was introduced by Atlanta Mayor Ivan Allen’s administration in the early 1960s. In 1965, the Georgia General Assembly voted to create MARTA as the transit system to serve the City of Atlanta and its surrounding five counties (Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton, and Gwinnett).  The act required local approvals and which were received from all counties with the exception of Cobb County.  

In addition to seeking approval, funding for the system was another significant challenge.  In 1966, Georgia voters approved a constitutional amendment that would allow the state to fund up to 10 percent of the cost of the system. The original plan for the local portion of funds was to finance the system through property taxes, though the measure was handily defeated in 1968. Following Ivan Allen, Mayor Sam Massell developed a proposal to fund the system through a special sales tax. Local option sales taxes were new to Georgia and the creation of one would require legislative approval, something that was not easily gained for city-centric legislation.

Backers worked to see the legislation advance and it gain approval, but at a cost. As the bill made its way through the Georgia Senate, Lieutenant Governor Lester Maddox communicated to supporters that if they wanted to see it pass, they would have to accept an amendment requiring MARTA evenly split the sales tax revenues between operating costs and capital expenditures. From the beginning, this restriction would hamstring the system by forcing a significant increase in fares and cuts whenever operating shortfalls arose.

Though the legislation emerged with stipulations, the eventual approval by the Georgia House and Senate were nonetheless celebrated. Massell called a news conference on the City Hall lawn, facing the capitol, where he unveiled a flatbed truck carrying a billboard that read “Thank You, Georgia Lawmakers!”. He also reportedly dug a hole in the City Hall lawn and ceremoniously buried a hatchet as a symbolic gesture of thanks.

Now that backers had won legislative approval, they had to define the terms of the ballot measure. One of the early sales tax proposals was for Fulton and DeKalb to levy a 3/4 penny tax and rely on the state for the 10 percent which was approved in 1966. Then Governor Jimmy Carter called MARTA officials to inform them that the state could not afford the $25 million contribution at that time.  Instead, Carter offered to allow MARTA to collect a full penny in local revenue if they did not lean on the state for dedicated funding. At the time, this revision put MARTA in a better financial position so leaders readily accept the alternative, but it was a decision that many would regret in years to come.

When the penny sales tax came to a vote in 1971, voters in Fulton and DeKalb narrowly approved the measure by a few hundred votes. Voters in Gwinnett and Clayton soundly defeated the measure.

Over the years, additional opportunities for MARTA expansion have unfortunately failed. Nevertheless, in a sign that old attitudes toward mass transit are evolving, Clayton County reversed its 1971 decision.  In 2014, a resounding 74% of the county voted in support of allowing expansion of MARTA service into Clayton County. This was the first expansion of MARTA outside of Fulton and DeKalb counties. Recent polling data in other surrounding counties shows shifting views in support of MARTA. Another survey shows the organization’s favorability within Fulton and DeKalb is as high as it’s ever been.

Part of the system’s renewed community support can be attributed to a financial turnaround engineered over the past several years, leaving MARTA operating with a budget surplus. The 50/50 restriction on the system was also removed in 2015, thus providing MARTA with more creativity and discretion on how it allocates funding.

As the region faces decisions on expanding our transit network, we at Advance Atlanta find it constructive to take stock of the successes and failures of those who have come before us. One thing is certain, the Atlanta region’s decisions on transit have had a significant impact (for better and for worse) on the development of our region. There is no doubt that improving transit access and mobility will leave a lasting legacy.

The Coalition to Advance Atlanta is a citizen-driven grassroots advocacy coalition dedicated to building support for regional transit and championing existing transit resources. Advance Atlanta brings together businesses, residents, and other community partners to advocate for transportation solutions that will advance the region we are all proud to call home.

We believe that the future of the metro region will be driven in large part by strategic investments in transit. If metro Atlanta is to remain competitive it will need to provide residents with  comprehensive transit options capable  of efficiently moving residents where they need to go when they need to be there.

For Atlanta to continue its position as a dominant economic force in the U.S. (and the world), a comprehensive, modern transit system is crucial.  We at Advance Atlanta invite you to join us.  To stay informed on our progress and to get involved, sign up for email updates here.  

Thank you for your support!

Joey Kline is an Atlanta native, Midtown resident, commercial real estate broker with Jones Lang LaSalle, and Board Member of Advance Atlanta. 

Transit 101 series:

This blog post is the third installment in a comprehensive series of stories discussing components of Georgia transit systems, transit decision makers, and regional transit opportunities.  We hope you find this series educational, entertaining, and insightful.

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The 7 Elements that Make a Bus Line BRT

The 7 Elements that Make a Bus Line BRT

First of all, BRT stands for Bus Rapid Transit. I hear a lot of people in Atlanta talk about BRT like it’s a typical commuter express bus service. It seems like 90% of the time I hear BRT mentioned, people are not actually talking about real BRT. Some of you may already know that the strict design criteria for BRT systems has ruffled a few feathers in the past. This is one area of transportation design where I believe that the guidelines are important because history has shown that the systems that meet have the most elements from the list below are the most successful. If you ignore the guidelines you run the risk of having a BRT line that isn’t BRT. Just another unsexy bus sitting in traffic can give BRT an unfairly bad reputation.

In this post, I’m going to arm you with the facts, so the next time you go to a meeting and someone mentions a BRT line, you can educate them if it’s not true BRT. BRT is an amazing concept working in major cities around the world, and if Atlanta is going to be a world-class city, it deserves a high quality, REAL BRT line.

So what makes a bus line a BRT?

There are 7 key elements that must be included at some level.

1.       Running way

A running way for BRT is a busway with a marked area for the bus to drive in. The key is, does the bus have its own lane to run in, or does it share lanes with existing traffic? A separated running way is an important piece of BRT, but one that typically gets sacrificed first because of Right of Way (ROW) restrictions (limited roadway space or the ability to widen a road). This is one element that can vary throughout the length of a system. A bus line can have a separated lane, a simple marked lane, or share lanes with traffic at times, but still be called BRT. In my opinion, the best kind of BRT has a dedicated and separated lane for the bus the entire length of the system, but most US cities are fully developed with limited space. So there you have it. Most important, but hardest to guideline to implement.

2.       Fare Collection

Another way to speed up a bus route for passengers is to reduce boarding time. How do you reduce boarding time? Collect the fare at the station platform using TVM (Ticket Vending Machines) instead of on the bus. This allows for all door boarding and less dwell time at stations. Less time waiting means less travel time for passengers. Tap card systems, like MARTA’s Breeze program, also speed up boarding and allow for easy transfers from adjacent lines. Thankfully mobile ticketing is also coming to many US cities soon.

Photo Credit: Paul Supawanich, photo of: NYC fare collection machines Photo Credit: Paul Supawanich, photo of: NYC fare collection machines

3.       Permanent stations

We’re not talking a bus stop. Not a bench and a simple overhang to shield you from the rain. A real raised platform with amenities such as lighting, seating, TVMs, art installations, and real time arrival information signs. You fancy, huh?

Photo Credit: Paul Supawanich, photo of: Cleveland Health Line Photo Credit: Paul Supawanich, photo of: Cleveland Health Line

4.       Vehicles

One thing that makes BRT unique from standard bus services is the vehicles themselves. BRT buses are usually larger articulated buses that carry more passengers. They have high quality interior materials, better lighting and climate control to optimize passenger comfort. They are usually lower-floor vehicles. Ideally, the vehicle allows for level boarding for ADA access, and faster boarding. Unfortunately, many US operators have struggled with this implementation due to the operator skill required to pull the bus up close enough to the station platform without causing damage. It’s good to see MARTA already moving in this direction with their recent new vehicle procurement announcement.

Photo credit: Ed Meng, photo of: TransMilenio bus in Bogota, Columbia Photo credit: Ed Meng, photo of: TransMilenio bus in Bogota, Colombia

5.       ITS

Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) deploy a variety of advanced technologies to collect, process and disseminate real-time data from vehicle and roadway sensors. For one thing, that means the entire corridor has gone through traffic signal optimization to give the bus route the fastest signaling possible. It gets better; that also means the bus can communicate with traffic signals to extend their green light times. Say the bus is about to leave the station and miss its programmed green light… it won’t. On top of that, the passengers will be able to see when the next bus will arrive at their station, not only on a message sign at the platform, but also on their smart phones. Another great technology the bus driver can use to ensure level boarding is called precision docking, which enables the bus to pull itself closely into the station area.

6.       Service and Operations

All of the above criteria impact the bus route’s service and operations. When implemented correctly the entire system should operate much more efficiently and faster than a standard bus line. In general, service should be provided all day with higher frequencies?? peak hours. BRT lines usually have stops every 2,000-7,000 ft – more spread out than typical bus routes to speed up service and serve dense nodes of development along busy corridors. Ideally, the BRT line has lower headways (time between buses). Many in the US have 10-15 minute headways, going to 5 minute headways during peak periods of travel. Basically, you shouldn’t be able to walk faster than the bus, you shouldn’t be able to have a full conversation with your mother while waiting for the bus, the bus shouldn’t stop every 4 blocks nor should it only stop at a park-n-ride lot in the burbs and downtown, and you shouldn’t drown in the rain while waiting for everyone to board the bus. What a concept.

7.       Branding

BRT lines are distinctive. They have a single brand throughout the entire line that connects to a broader transit system. The buses are branded, the stations are branded, and everything connects together into one common image that is easily identifiable by the community it serves. For example, if MARTA implemented BRT, the buses wouldn’t look like standard MARTA buses. Maybe they’d all be yellow and be like giant Big Birds that you can’t ignore driving down its own lane on North Avenue shuttling you from Moreland to PCM to the North Avenue MARTA station? Hey, a girl can dream.

Photo by: Paul Supawanich, photo of: Vegas Max BRT Photo by: Paul Supawanich, photo of: Vegas Max BRT

Stayed tuned for BRT Part 2: BRT in Atlanta.

Danielle Elkins is the Vice President of Advance Atlanta, and she wants to advance Atlanta because like her friends and neighbors, she wants safe and convenient transportation options. Before moving to Atlanta almost 4 years ago, Danielle worked on designing the first BRT system in the Bay Area. That system is still under construction today, which shows that quality design and construction takes time. She has a degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Southern California and works for a Fortune 500 engineering firm in Atlanta.

Transit 101 series:

This blog post is the second installment in a comprehensive series of stories discussing components of Georgia transit systems, transit decision makers, and regional transit opportunities.  We hope you find this series educational, entertaining, and insightful.

Advance Atlanta’s Crash Course on Your Georgia General Assembly

Knowing why the legislature matters to transportation policy and how you can serve as a citizen-advocate

While what occurs in Washington D.C. takes up most of the cable news and internet political coverage you likely consume, state capitols and city halls are often where the rubber meets the road when it comes to the policy decisions that most directly affect you, your wallet, and your neighborhood. Fortunately, they’re also places where your voice can be heard loud and clear if you understand how they work and you commit yourself to participating in the decision making process.

When it comes to transit policy, the general assembly has the authority to give counties the authority to conduct ballot referenda (issues that are voted on directly by residents) in counties to allocate special options local sales tax (SPLOST) revenue to fund transit agencies. A committee composed of members of the general assembly provides oversight on MARTA policy issues and budget. Critically, in the 2015 legislative session, the Georgia General Assembly removed a restriction that had required MARTA to spend 50% of its revenue on operations and the other 50% on capital projects. Headed into the 2016 session, there is talk of further gains to be had.

At Advance Atlanta, we’re all about citizens mobilizing to advocate for smart transit policy for the metro Atlanta region, so read on!

Every year in the second week of January, elected representatives drawn from across the state of Georgia assemble at 206 S. Washington Street in Atlanta. Gathered together for an annual session consisting of 40 work days, the members of the Georgia State House of Representatives and Georgia State Senate act as the legislative branch of state government, passing new laws, amending existing laws, and most importantly, passing the state’s budget.

The bicameral legislature is divided into a lower house, the House of Representatives consisting of 180 representatives, and the upper house, the Senate, consisting of 56 senators. All members of the general assembly are “part time lawmakers”, earning a stipend of $17,342 a year for their service to the state. Most legislators hold other jobs that they work outside of the 40 day annual session.

The Georgia House is currently led by Speaker David Ralston, a Republican from Blue Ride, and the Senate is led by Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle, a Republican from Gainesville. The assembly is firmly in Republican hands, with 118 seats in the house and 39 seats in the senate.

Members of the house and senate author bills and attempt to get them passed by both houses in order to go on to receive the signature of Governor Nathan Deal and become law. Bills need to clear various committees that are determined by the content of the proposed law before being voted on by the house in which they originate. If a bill is approved in one house, it must do so by the 30th day of session, so-called “crossover day” in order to then be transferred over for consideration by the other house. If approved there, the bill will be “brought to the floor” of the entire general assembly for a vote. If successful, Governor Deal will need to sign the bill in order for it to become law.

This all may seem like a lot to take in, but there are plenty of opportunities for ordinary citizens to provide input and shape the decision making process at the capitol.

First off, you should find out who your house representative and senator are and you can do that using the tool linked right here. Write to your legislators and call their offices to let them know where you, as their constituent, stand on transit policy. Legislators care about what the people in their districts think on key issues and hearing directly from you, a constituent, can be critical to their final vote. Want to be a super advocate? Schedule some time to visit with your legislators at their office at the capitol or back when they’re in your district.

You can also write letters to the editor and op-eds in local publications expressing your views and send these to your elected representatives via email, Facebook, or Twitter.

Have a bill that you’re interested in? You can track its progress by going this page of the general assembly’s website. You can also call the house clerk at (404) 656-5015 or the secretary of the senate at (404) 656-5040.

The above website will also have links to live broadcasts of committee hearings, and you can watch these online or attend in person. The fourth floor of the capitol has a gallery overlooking both chambers where you can watch the action live.

Lastly, there’s power in numbers. Advance Atlanta is building a diverse coalition of metro Atlanta residents, business, and civic organizations to be the voices of greater transit connectivity and to coordinate grassroots activities so that we speak with one voice. Every resident should be able to move efficiently through our region using mass transit. It makes metro Atlanta a more competitive place to live, work, and play, and it raises our quality of life.

We hope you join with us.

Nick Juliano is a public affairs consultant with Resolute Consulting and the President of Advance Atlanta.

Transit 101 series:

This blog post is the first installment in a comprehensive series of stories discussing components of Georgia transit systems, transit decision makers, and regional transit opportunities.  We hope you find this series educational, entertaining, and insightful.

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: 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 

Georgia Transportation Summit 2015

The Transportation Funding Act, House Bill 170, was at the forefront of the discussion at the Georgia Transportation Summit last week. The mood among many transportation officials was celebratory, praising the state legislature for their leadership in passing the bill to add nearly $1 billion in new transportation funding. The event brought together over 700 attendees to hear what transportation initiatives are in the works for the state and Metro Atlanta. Presentations by GDOT Commissioner Russell McMurry and GDOT Chief Engineer Meg highlighted how significant the new legislation will be to the state’s transportation network.

But will House Bill 170 be the magic bullet for transportation in Georgia? While it is certainly a huge step forward in improving our transportation network, some panelists suggested that we cannot rest on our laurels. There is still work to do, particularly in the realm of transit. David Allman, Chairman of Regent Partners, said the critical next step to follow up on the success of House Bill 170 will be MARTA expansion. Panelist Craig Lesser of the Pendleton Group spoke from an economic development perspective, saying access to MARTA is critical for business in Metro Atlanta. The next panel, featuring MARTA Board Chairman Robbie Ashe, discussed expanding freight and commuter mobility. Ashe highlighted the fact that companies such as State Farm, Mercedes Benz, and Kaiser Permanente have chosen to locate near MARTA and described expansion plans, including the Connect 400, I-20 East, and Clifton Corridor projects.

Among the breakout sessions was a presentation by Keith Parker, General Manager and CEO of MARTA, about MARTA’s success in focusing on an improved customer experience. Now that MARTA has gone through rebuilding efforts and has turned a budget shortfall into a surplus, he discussed plans for expansion potentially funded by an additional half penny sales tax so that the Atlanta region can attract federal matching funds for transit expansion.

Getting to know Advance Atlanta


Thank you for your interest in learning more about us. We want to tell you a little more about who we are.

Advance Atlanta is a grassroots, citizen-driven coalition working to champion a unified, comprehensive regional transit system for metro Atlanta. We believe in a metro Atlanta region in which our residents are able to get to the places where they live, work, and play efficiently through a top-notch transit system that gets people where they need to go.

Our traffic problems have strangled us for years. Traffic congestion has topped the list of residents’ concerns in the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Metro Atlanta Speaks survey for the past two years. Despite the hard work of many people, it’s just the case today that if you want to get most places in metro Atlanta, you can’t do that by hopping on a train, bus, or streetcar and get there in a reasonable amount of time, or at all.

If we’re going to overcome the challenges confronting our region, metro Atlanta needs to speak with one voice and make the case in our neighborhoods, in our board rooms, in the media, and to our elected officials that it’s time to address our transportation woes comprehensively throughoutstanding  transit  access that reflects the outstanding region we call home.

Doing so will make our region a more competitive, healthier, and productive place to be.

If you’re reading this, you probably agree. We need your help.

We need to get the word out that it’s time for all hands to be on deck for transit in metro Atlanta. We need to drill down into the neighborhoods of the metro region and find people who are passionate about their communities and want to make a difference.

We’re looking for people who know their neighborhoods and want to serve as community organizers and advocates as well as those who just want to lend their name to an effort through petitions or making a call to legislators. If you’re a business owner, we’d love to have your support.

In the months to come, we want to hold grassroots organizing meetings in communities across the region and build a coalition of residents, businesses, and community organizations committed to the vison that if we’re going to advance Atlanta, we need to connect it.

Over the next 45 days, we’re asking you to reach out to your friends, family members, coworkers, and neighbors who share this vision and have them

Now that you know a little more about us, we want to learn more about you!
What are your thoughts on transit in your community? Are you interested in organizing in your community?  Please fill out this quick survey.

Tell your friends and family
Now’s the time, metro Atlanta. Please share this message with 10+ individuals who may be interested.  We look forward to the road ahead together.  You can join our newsletter at

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