Ralston urges bold action on mass transit in Georgia

Speaker David Ralston sought bold action Thursday from a state House of Representatives commission charged with plotting Georgia’s mass transit future.

The commission began its first meeting with a cheerleading speech from the speaker, who said mass transit will be critical to economic development in the future.

“Over the last few years we have created a great deal of momentum that has propelled us to this moment,” Ralston told the commission.

Ralston won approval of a resolution creating the commission on the last day of this year's legislative session after two bills that would have created similar commissions – one a House bill, the other a Senate bill – failed to clear the General Assembly.

Despite that setback, the speaker charged the group with thinking big, and signaled he’s open to regular state funding of mass transit – a holy grail of transit advocates.

“I am not of the opinion that the state must wholly control or take over a transit system to provide funding,” Ralston said.

The commission – a group of local and state elected officials and representatives of various transportation agencies – will spend the next year and a half discussing how to integrate mass transit into Georgia’s statewide transportation system.