A bill to put MARTA expansion on an upcoming ballot and let voters decide the issue won't receive a vote in the Georgia State Senate. Had the measure passed, it would have given MARTA the go-ahead to pursue an $8 billion expansion of rail lines farther into northern Fulton county, south of Interstate 20, and along Clifton Corridor.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the bill, SB 313, did not make it onto the calendar to receive a vote. The news comes despite broad public support. Polling conducted by the Metro Atlanta Chamber before the legislative session showed a majority of voters from every background were in favor of a tax to expand MARTA. Plus the referendum had support from (some) legislators in Alpharetta, Roswell, and Sandy Springs.
The city councils of Alpharetta and Johns Creek a few days ago passed resolutions to have an impact study conducted before a ballot measure is passed. It's likely that was taken as a sign by other state senators that a decision on the ballot measure should be delayed. Other state senators from the North Fulton region have been publicly opposed to the expansion — and loudly so.
The radical notion that maybe Atlanta should sovereignly allow voters to green-light tax measures, expand MARTA and other transit within city limits, and let suburbs stew in their own traffic muck is sounding better by the day.
One group disappointed with the bill’s failure is MARTA Army, an independent grassroots organization that aims to improve the MARTA ridership experience across the region. Said the MARTA soldiers, in an email to Curbed:
- "The MARTA Army regrets that voters won’t be asked about expanding MARTA this year. Although the Army does not endorse specific bills, plans, or modes, we support a vision for world-class transit for the Atlanta Area. Over the last six months, we have held events throughout the region, from Forest Park to Roswell, recruiting more than 250 soldiers to adopt bus stops. They have placed laminated signs at their adopted bus stops with route information, schedules and maps. These volunteers have shown there is a real desire for world-class transit in the Atlanta region."
UPDATE: Robbie Ashe, MARTA Board Chair, sends the following statement:
- “We are disappointed voters will not have an opportunity to support MARTA's expansion in the November 2016 election. We deeply appreciate all the support we received from so many individuals and organizations along the way. We remain committed to MARTA's transformation from good to great, and providing first-in-class service to the millions of customers we will serve this year.”
- MARTA rail effort dies without a Senate floor vote [AJC]
- Alpharetta, Johns Creek seek information on MARTA tax, rail plans [AJC]
- Wood Supports Extending MARTA Rail To Roswell [Patch]
- Gold Dome Arguments Heat Up Over MARTA Expansion [Curbed]
- MARTA Expansion's Unprecedented Support in 11 Charts [Curbed]