The Transport Politic has a great piece on all the transit projects underway this year, including our own Atlanta Streetcar. There’s a spiffy map with the details, including track length and cost. Click the image above to see the larger version, and be sure to take a look at the full post, which covers the political struggles going on with transportation funding.
— A New Year’s Eve Call to Action for Urbanists | Planetizen
Following a string of attacks on Atlanta bus drivers, MARTA is adding $17 million worth of security camera’s to all of its vehicles, with $9 million in funding from the project coming from the Dept of Homeland Security.
Starting next week, MARTA will roll out seven buses on seven different routes with the cameras. At the end of the pilot program in October, crews will then install cameras on the rest of the 524 buses in its fleet. Each bus will have nine cameras, three on the outside, six on the inside recording both video and audio
In related news, my wife reports that “about half the time (my son) and I ride the bus home there’s some pretty squirrelly people riding the bus.” And that’s the truth, Baby Ruth. Here’s hoping that the camera’s not only deter crime but improve general behavior among riders. Both those things could do a lot for helping the greater Atlanta public having a more charitable view of bus ridership.
MARTA photo from Flickr user M42 Productions
I like this short piece in from Atlanta Magazine about the importance of MARTA during this crazy weekend when Atlanta is hosting so many events. We’ve got DragonCon, Braves games, high school football at the Dome, Black Gay Pride, the nearby Decatur Book Festival and many other things happening over the next three days.
Quotes from the article:
…MARTA makes all of these events work. According to the transit agency, last year’s Labor Day Saturday saw about 208,400 rail system entries—double what the system sees on a typical Saturday.
The Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau estimates this weekend’s events will generate more than $70 million for the city and bring in more than 230,000 visitors, and MARTA is a key ingredient.
Basically, we wouldn’t be able to take on events of this nature if we didn’t have MARTA to help people get around. Atlanta is reaping the rewards of the investment in transit infrastructure made decades ago. That’s the way it works.
Marta photo by Instagram user Nicole Childs
Saporta Report has a great post from an Atlanta transportation planner about some commonly-repeated myths that popped up during the recent T-SPLOST debate. I highly recommend reading it: “Challenging transportation myths after the failed regional TIA vote.”
As a teaser, here’s Myth #1:
“Only 3 percent of people take transit so it’s not worth the money.”
Reality: The majority of the population does not live near transit. In the City of Atlanta, where frequent train and bus routes exist ridership is 30+ percent. Using diluted percentages to justify the rejection of transit is a dangerous business case for the future of our region and state. Every successful city in the future is building a choice of roads and transit, and they are not mutually exclusive.
I read this “3%” statistic many times this year as an argument again transit expansion. The Atlanta metro area is huge and a relatively small part of it is served by transit. How could anyone expect a significant percentage of riders in the metro if most people don’t even have the option?
The writer of the post, Heather Alhadeff, notes that future conversations about transportation in Atlanta “must include voices that are different, younger, and new residents who are unburdened by the racial politics of our past and unimpressed by the arguments of inevitable sprawl and continued auto-dependency.”
This is true. There are many people who are wrongly convinced that sprawl and car-dependency in Atlanta are somehow inevitable — their voices end up dominating too many conversations about transportation.
MARTA Five Points Station photo by Flickr user Scott Shire
There’s a must-read article in the new Atlanta magazine by Doug Monroe called Where It All Went Wrong : If only we could undo the MARTA Compromise of 1971.
It explores the damage done to MARTA by the 50/50 compromise from 1971 which established that no more than 50 percent of MARTA’s sales tax revenue (from City of Atlanta and Fulton/Dekalb counties) could go to operating costs.
As the article states:
That has meant that whenever MARTA needed more money for operating expenses, it had to cut elsewhere or raise fares. As a result, MARTA has raised the fare over the years to today’s $2.50, making it one of the priciest transit systems in the country.
My favorite part of the article is one that examines the way the metro embraced car-dependent sprawl while shunning transportation alternatives and a walkable built environment.
It reads like a case study of what happens when a metro focuses on short-term money making instead of long-term place making.
Georgia started “building highways expressly to enrich developers,” [former AJC reporter David Goldberg] says. “A whole lot of land owners and developers who knew how to do suburban development had the ear of state government and the money to buy influence…A lot of what was new suburban development back then is now underused, decaying, and part of an eroding tax base in the older suburban areas.”
“The sick joke of it all is that we built the place to be auto-oriented and designed it about as bad as we could to function for auto use,” Goldberg says. “The highway network we did build was designed in a way almost guaranteed to produce congestion—the land use around all that development put the nail in the coffin.”