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Vast majority of Atlantans want better transit, study finds

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Overwhelmingly, denizens of Atlanta want to live close to transit. So why don’t they?

A MARTA train leaving the East Lake station near Decatur.
A MARTA train leaving East Lake Station.

While the greater metropolitan area lacks a comprehensive public transit system, a new study finds that the majority of Atlantans want more readily accessible options for getting around the city.

According to a study by HTNB, a national construction engineering company, more than 80 percent of metro Atlanta residents wish they lived closer to a MARTA station or bus stop.

Sure, a transit study by an engineering firm might smack as being biased—kind of like a Ford dealership declaring that research proves everyone needs new cars—so this footnote is provided:

“HNTB’s America THINKS survey, ‘Mobility in Atlanta’ polled a random sample of 1,026 Atlanta area residents from Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, Coweta, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry, and Rockdale counties. It was conducted by Kelton Global, using an e-mail invitation and online survey from Dec. 1-8, 2016.”

The findings indicate a pretty significant 31 percent increase in people who desire easy transit accessibility over the last five years.

Millennials are leading the push for more accessibility to transit, with 40 percent of 18-to-34-year-olds having an increased desire to be able to easily take transit, per HTNB’s numbers.

The survey also suggests that many Atlantans would be more apt to use transit if there were circulator buses to take passengers from stations to their final destinations—a means of providing last-mile connectivity.

While Cobb County remains the last holdout among the five counties included in the original vision for MARTA service, growth of transit into Gwinnett County is not out of the question.

But despite increased interest in MARTA, expanding service will be a hard hurdle to overcome.

Politically, the move to bring MARTA into new areas is difficult, with local and state politicians unwilling to test the waters by providing public funds to support transit.

What percentage of support for transit growth will it take before something happens?