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Your Burning MARTA-Expansion Questions, Answered!

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A lot of people still have big, existential questions about the expansion of MARTA's rail system. Big questions like "Why?" and "Should we?" and "Why?" again. Some of these questions — and answers — are even coming from Atlanta's leading newspaper. So fear not!

In a recent "Gridlock Guy" column for the AJC, Mark Arum brought up some big questions — that he conveniently answered himself — concerning MARTA's expansions into Alpharetta, along I-20 East and along the Clifton Road corridor:

If we build it, will people use it?
Will people go for a tax increase to fund it?
Is it really needed?

Pretty straight-forward stuff. Here we go!

If we build it, will people use it?
Yes! Emphatically yes! Yes? Arum answers this with a big maybe, citing current underutilization of MARTA. But, much of that stems from a lack of density in areas surrounding current stations. Though, through MARTA projects and new mixed-use developments moving north that problem is quickly solving itself.

Will people vote for a tax increase to fund it?
Okay, this is still up in the air. Previous polls show that the supporters of MARTA expansion have a huge majority. 73 percent of Fulton and DeKalb voters are in support! BUT once taxes come into play, the for and against sides came closer to an even 50/50 split. So, this might be more dependent on shifting demographics, recent voter registrations — which were at an all-time high this year — and factors driving turnout like, say, a presidential election.

Is it really needed?
Yes! Another emphatic yes over here. Arum points to a supposed transportation revolution (cars without drivers!) that would create instant buyer's remorse for newly finished stations in 10 to 15 years. While driverless cars would certainly be revolutionary and mitigate some traffic problems, they can't widen roads, decrease city density, stem the tide of suburbanization or keep millions of people from moving to the city. It will still be cheaper and faster to fit 20 people in a train-car or bus than 20 cars on a one-way street.

· Gridlock Guy: MARTA expansion raises long-term questions [AJC]
· MARTA Expansion Bill Faces Confounding Committee Fumble [Curbed]
· Residents Petition Legislature to Get MARTA Line Built [Curbed]
· Finally, a Study Shows MARTA Funds, Ridership in Infographics [Curbed]
· Study: Atlanta Needs to Step Up its Transit Game Now [Curbed]