But with corporations like Mercedes-Benz and State Farm building major facilities along MARTA lines, political attitudes have begun to change. Lawmakers have signaled they’d consider investing in mass transit to help solve Atlanta’s traffic congestion and boost economic development.
Last month a Senate committee recommended that the state hire a consultant to study the particulars of a new regional transit model. The idea is to consolidate local agencies or at least improve coordination among them– with the prospect of state funding as an enticement.
Earlier this month House Speaker David Ralston proposed a commission to study state funding of mass transit.
Meanwhile, Atlanta voters recently approved plans to expand MARTA in the city. Fulton and DeKalb counties already are talking about another expansion.
Under SB 6, the proposed transit council would include three members each appointed by the leaders of the state Senate and House. The heads of the Georgia Department of Transportation, the State Road and Tollway Authority, MARTA and the Georgia Transportation Alliance also would be members.
The council would be rounded out by commission chairs from the five largest metro Atlanta counties and the chairs of metropolitan planning organizations from Augusta, Columbus, Macon, and Savannah.
The council’s report would not be due until December 2018, but the deadline could be extended a year with the permission of House and Senate leaders.