Atlanta's transit system is seriously lagging behind other cities, according to a recent study by HNTB. According to the firm, MARTA hasn't undertaken a single expansion since 2000 and in that decade and a half other cities have made major progess in city-wide transportation access. Because of major investment initiatives, cities like Denver, Dallas and Washington D.C. have leapt ahead in terms of transportation funding and service.
The study, commissioned by the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and the Georgia Transportation Alliance, points out that transportation is a major factor in business relocation and workforce development. Access to transit is now key in company decisions to relocate to Atlanta, as evidenced by Kaiser Permanente, State Farm and Mercedes-Benz. Plus younger workers are choosing to rely heavily on public transportation in greater numbers, and that choice has been listed as a major factor in deciding where to live.
The study also pointed out that investments in transportation infrastructure produce much greater economic benefits. MARTA expansion along Clifton Road Corridor, GA-400 and I-20 East is likely to cost $8 billion, but the following benefits would be much greater, per the study:
• Nearly 45,000 additional jobs;
• Transit access within 1/2 mile to 1.4 million jobs;
• A $5.2 billion increase in Gross Regional Product;
• A $4.2 billion increase to personal income with the majority of this increase occurring in counties currently not serviced by MARTA;
• Approximately $3.6 billion more in disposable income for households within the 20-county region;
• An additional $116 million annually in wages for the Atlanta region;
• Commuter travel-time savings of over $1.8 billion total.
Sounds optimistic, but also sounds pretty good.
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