For metro Atlantans who were optimistic that a bump in sales tax revenue could remedy the region's traffic ills and kick the economy into hyper-speed, the crushing defeat of 2012's T-SPLOST referendum was a gut-punch for the ages. But never fear, says Atlanta's mayor — a revived regional transit initiative could materialize as early as next year! Speaking this week in Washington D.C. at a Policito Magazine forum, Mayor Kasim Reed said the T-SPLOST defeat shouldn't discourage regional leaders from trying some form of transportation referendum again in 2015, the AJC reports. In front of a national panel of education and municipal leaders, Reed touted intown Atlanta's draw for both Millennials and Baby Boomers, suggesting that time and serious effort will bring such a diverse voting contingent to the same side of a sales-tax initiative. "We've just got to stop being so soft. Doing hard things is hard," the newspaper quoted Reed as saying. Given the bitter taste of the region's last stab at a tax-funded transportation overhaul, the mayor's gusto might smack as overly optimistic — or maybe it's the ambitious sort of thinking the region needs? Whatever the case, Reed's statements seem like a departure from his earlier thinking. He'd previously said that smaller clusters of governments in metro Atlanta would likely team up to pursue regional transportation projects. But would such pairings be small potatoes, in the grand scheme of Atlanta's transportation woes? Who cares if you can ride a streetcar from Ponce City Market to Phipps Plaza if you can't leave town in less than two hours on a Friday afternoon?
Lest we forget: Only 38 percent of metro Atlantans voted in favor of the 1 percent sales tax last time. The 10-county voting region was so sprawling, it lumped urban transit advocates with suburbanites pining for more highways, which proved to be a recipe for defeat, despite a slick marketing campaign. (Remember the commercials with Spaghetti Junction morphing into a smog-spewing boa constrictor, or the ones with seatbelts strangling commuters?) Regardless of what comes next, the T-SPLOST defeat was a lesson in what doesn't work.
· Reed predicts new regional transit effort to gear up in 2015 [AJC]
· All recent T-SPLOST talk [Curbed Atlanta]