The House bill, which does not yet have a number, requires commission members to include a “unified regional governance structure” for any mass transportation system operating in metropolitan areas of the state.
Ralston spokesman Kaleb McMichen said his boss wants to “integrate transit into state transportation moving forward on a statewide, comprehensive basis.”
For decades mass transit has been a polarizing political issue in Georgia. Cobb and Gwinnett counties refused to join MARTA and ultimately started their own local and express bus services. Georgia remains one of the few states that provides no regular funding for mass transit.
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.
Staff writers Dave Wickert and Greg Bluestein contributed.