Public transit bill clears committee hurdle

A bill that sponsors say would help public transit statewide, including MARTA, passed the House Transportation Committee on Tuesday.

SB 520 would restore the state Department of Transportation’s office that deals with public transit, ports and railways to division status after it was unwittingly demoted in a new law last year.

The committee also added measures to the bill Tuesday to help MARTA, including lifting a restriction on how much it can spend on operations.

The bill would also reconfigure the MARTA board, eliminating positions for the state and Clayton and Gwinnett counties, which don’t pay into MARTA. DeKalb and Fulton counties use a 1 percent sales tax to fund MARTA, and they appoint a majority of the positions on the board.