Yet a few years ago, Austin opened a commuter-rail line that now serves riders along a 32-mile route. Dallas has opened two new rail lines in the past six years and has expanded a third, with a total of 36 miles of rail service added in the last five years. Next month, it will also open a second downtown streetcar line.
Dallas already shares a 32-mile commuter rail link with neighboring Fort Worth, and Fort Worth is planning to open another 26-mile rail line to the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport by 2018. Down on the Gulf Coast, Houston opened a new rail line in 2013 and will celebrate the opening of two additional light-rail lines next month.
Somehow, they’re making investments in their future. Somehow, they understand that times are changing, and that things as they used to be yesterday won’t be nearly good enough tomorrow. They recognize that their metro regions are the drivers of their economy, and they’ve given those regions the resources, flexibility and authority to prepare themselves.
And in Georgia? Our legislative leaders act as if they should be knighted because maybe, just maybe, they’ll give MARTA the power to decide for itself how much to spend on operations vs. capital needs. That’s what passes for enlightenment.