It’s time for elected officials to stop thinking of transit funding as a benefit only to Atlanta. In fact, at the next legislative session, we will propose a bill that will give funding to every transit system in Georgia.
On the table should be yearly fare reductions until they get to zero. Our belief is that if you build it — a free fare system — they will come. Increased service will also attract new riders. Every time MARTA raises fares, it loses riders. The reverse is also true.
The answers from the poll respondents track what a study released in July told us: Atlanta is one of the worst cities in America if you want to improve your economic status and move up the ladder from one class to the next.
The immediate problem with respect to MARTA is that the board has shortsighted plans. For example, the MARTA board is planning to wait until year five of its new plan to ask for state funding — when Gov. Deal (if re-elected) will be out of office due to term limits.
The entire state Legislature is up for re-election next year. Let the members tell voters why they won’t fund their system, which would be a win-win for everyone.
Everyone in our state will benefit: riders, workers, employers and those who like to breathe clean air. Our children will benefit from the realization that we worked together, in a non-partisan fashion, to leave a legacy for all residents of Georgia.
Anything less will be viewed as an abdication of our responsibility as leaders to fix something that has no downside for anyone.
Curtis Howard is president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 732.