Bodker: Regional transit governance essential

Johns Creek Mayor Mike Bodker has led a qualified charge for the regional transportation sales tax, arguing that traffic congestion is choking economic development and eroding the area's quality of life.

At the same time, Bodker has insisted that money from the tax be distributed equitably to target commuter corridors most in need of relief. He has also criticized counties unwilling to chip in on regional transit the way residents of DeKalb and Fulton have supported MARTA with a penny sales tax for three decades.

Gov. Nathan Deal recently appointed Bodker, 46, to the newly created Transit Governance Task Force, which will develop metrowide mass transit legislation for the 2012 General Assembly.

Bodker is a partner in Johns Creek-based nexDimension Technology Solutions. He is chairman of the Metro Atlanta Mayors' Association, treasurer and board member of the Atlanta Regional Commission and a member of its Regional Transit Committee, and sits on the executive board of the Georgia Municipal Association. He is also the North Fulton Mayors' Association representative to the regional transportation Roundtable, which is now finalizing its list of projects to be funded by the transportation sales tax.

When you get up in the morning, which hat do you put on?

"I wear all of my various hats every single day, and I'm constantly juggling between the city, my real job and the work I do on behalf of the region."

What would you like to bring to the table as a member of the governor's Transit Governance Task Force?

"I would like to see metro Atlanta unify its transit governance and come up with a workable operations and maintenance funding source so that we could have sustainable transit throughout the region."

Does that imply a contribution from outlying counties?

"No. It would say that those who have transit would help fund transit. We would pool those funds and pool the cost structure and become more efficient so that we could offer more transit at a lower cost. The picture of metro Atlanta looks pretty bleak if we don't find a way to extend transit."

You are also the North Fulton Mayors' representative to the regional Roundtable. What do you hope to convey to its voting members this week?

"We're for transit.... But we believe transit without regional governance is not workable."

This sounds like the threat north Fulton mayors made a year ago when they vowed to fight the transportation sales tax if Cobb and Gwinnett didn't contribute something to regional transit.

"Nothing's changed. Nothing's changed because nothing's happened....This is that defining moment in time when we're either going to do the right thing, which is put true governance in place, or we're going to fail the region."

Are you satisfied with the Roundtable list as it stands?

"The project list is not completed yet. I think north Fulton has a great set of projects. Certainly I would not have been upset if there had been more, but I've tried to take off my north Fulton hat and recognize that ... as long as we improve the commute in general, we're helping everybody out."

What about Atlanta's Beltline project receiving T-SPLOST money?

"I think the Beltline is a very important project, and it's important especially for the City of Atlanta. My concerns about the Beltline have been: Is it the best use of $600 million of Transportation Investment Act funding compared to other ways that that some $600 million could be invested? You have to ask that question of each and every project."