Fulton County residents will be able to weigh in on a countywide transit plan in June, when the first in a series of public meetings are scheduled.
The meetings are one of several methods planners will use to gather input for a $1 million study to determine what the transit needs are in both north and south Fulton. They intend to interview county and city leaders as well as talk to legislators about transit needs. Online questionnaires will also be available as the project progresses.
The study is intended to provide a framework for leaders to decide how best to spend their money on transit.
No dollars have been allocated yet, though.
Fulton voters last fall agreed to increase sales taxes for road and other improvements by three quarters of a penny, with the understanding that the conversation about transit would continue. The money that is being collected outside the city of Atlanta — about $655 million over five years — will not pay for transit projects.
In Atlanta, voters approved a half-penny to pay for MARTA expansion and four-tenths of a penny for other transportation improvements. The MARTA tax will collect $2.5 billion over 40 years, while the city transportation measure will take in as much as $320 million over five years.
Future funding for transit outside of Atlanta will be determined after leaders decide what level of service they may want to provide.
“Ultimately, our job is to figure out what fits our community,” Fulton Commissioner Liz Hausmann said. “It’s important to figure out what works for us, what would put us in a good place for the future.”
The plan is in its early stages, but a final report is expected by the end of the year. In the meantime, Fulton County Chairman John Eaves said he is "very optimistic" about the success of the venture. He said the shutdown of I-85 for more than a month "certainly has raised awareness among the public that we need alternative modes of transportation."
Fulton leaders are considering a trip to Los Angeles to see their bus-rapid transit system, and other transit.
Todd Long, Fulton’s chief operating officer, said he hopes to get early buy-in from state leaders by including them in the planning process.
“People come up with these plans, and they go running to the Capitol,” Long said. “This is going to help everybody be at the same educational level.”
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