And now, the hard part: County chairman on selling transit to Cobb voters

File Photo: Oneichan Critchlow rides the blue Cumberland Circulator bus in Cobb on Thursday, August 17, 2017.  (Rebecca Breyer)
File Photo: Oneichan Critchlow rides the blue Cumberland Circulator bus in Cobb on Thursday, August 17, 2017. (Rebecca Breyer)

Credit: Rebecca Breyer

Credit: Rebecca Breyer

A transit bill passed by the Georgia legislature late Thursday aims to expand rail service throughout metro Atlanta and could also lay the groundwork for MARTA in parts of Cobb.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution caught up with Cobb Commission Chair Mike Boyce to ask him about next steps.

AJC: What’s your reaction to the transit bill passing?

BOYCE: Now we’ve got to begin to build on this achievement and that’s going to be just as big a work load as it was getting the bill passed. The county is fiscally conservative and asking them to raise the penny tax itself is going to require an information campaign that will convince them that this is something that we should be doing and that will rest on the project list … we have a lot of moving pieces. 

AJC: Is this paving the way for bringing MARTA to Cobb? 

BOYCE: I’m not going to go as far as to say that ... It’s a transit expansion in some form. 

AJC: But a joint committee could draw a special district that could, if it wanted, bring in MARTA? 

BOYCE: That’s a fair statement.

AJC: What is your pitch going to be to Cobb voters to support this? 

BOYCE: For every dollar that we spend, whoever spends, on transit, there’s a $4 return on economic development. It will also help with the traffic issues in the county. I think those are the two major points right now.

AJC: So it sounds like you are supportive.

BOYCE: I support it (the bill) because I don’t need a traffic study to tell me we have traffic problems in Cobb County. Transit is one--and I emphasize one--of the measures to address that. We’ll also be taking a close look at the upcoming SPLOST list.

AJC: What is your message to the metro region, much of which perceives Cobb as wanting to keep Atlanta and MARTA at arm’s length? 

BOYCE: My message would be that the board and delegation worked real hard to make sure that Cobb was included in the legislation to offset this perception. We do have transit. We have 3.4 million riders that ride our transit system [CobbLinc] and we connect to MARTA. 

*This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

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