Fragmented transit systems slow region

In the last week of the last legislative session, the state Senate passed a resolution calling for the formation of a study committee to examine regional transit in metro Atlanta.

The committee comprises three Republicans and two Democrats whose main task is to assess current transit assets in the region, and to recommend solutions to bring them together to work seamlessly for customers.

We are specifically examining MARTA, GRTA Express, Cobb Transit and Gwinnett Transit. We believe if we can get the big four transit entities to come together, we can begin to work on transportation solutions.

Currently, we have a very fragmented transit system that is confusing and inefficient. To prove this point, I recently rode public transit from Kennesaw State University to the Gwinnett Arena.

To plan my ride, I had to visit three websites to review schedules and organize my trip. I then rode two buses on the Cobb Transit system to the MARTA Arts Center Station, then boarded a train to the Lindbergh Station. There, I changed trains to the Doraville line, then boarded a Gwinnett bus that took me two blocks from the Gwinnett Arena.

The 32-mile trip took 3 hours 35 minutes. You can fly to New York City faster. (View my journey at

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I also had to pay three different times, with exact change. No debit cards were accepted.

This journey taught me that, individually, all three transit groups were on time, clean, friendly and safe, but that there was no coordination or collaboration among the agencies.

We are not looking to create more infrastructure or more agencies; what we are looking to do is take our current assets and have them collaborate to form a harmonious journey for the customer.

Customers who get on a bus at Kennesaw State to get to their jobs in downtown Atlanta don’t care what the bus is named, who is on its board of directors, or how federal transit money flows to an agency; they want to know that the bus arrives on time and they can depend on a reliable, clean and safe ride that will get them to work on time.

I am convinced that if we provide a transit system that is easy to navigate and reliable, clean and — most importantly — safe, ridership will increase.

If we want the Atlanta area to be a world-class region, we cannot continue with a fragmented transit system; we must come together as one unified transit entity.

Brandon Beach is a Republican state senator who represents North Fulton and Cherokee counties. He is also president and CEO of the Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce.

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