Weak transit spending in Georgia; could it grow?

Georgia has awarded $75 million in transit grants to agencies across the state. Atlantans will see improved communications systems in MARTA stations and upgrades to regional-bus stops Downtown.

Does this signal a new interest on the part of the state in finding transit services? If so, that would signal a big turnaround for Georgia which is not known for having a transit-friendly budget.

A 2016 report by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials shows that Georgia’s transit funding works out to a paltry .33 cents per person.

Compare that to $11.55 per person in Florida, $7.98 in North Carolina and $7.62 in Tennessee. (Note: several states with big transit systems spend one or two hundred dollars per resident.)

It’s worth considering when we think about measures such as raising our local sales tax in the City of Atlanta to fund transit expansion here. Are we paying more than our fair share for transit that benefits the state overall? Particularly when you consider the state’s miserly investment?

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Five Points Station
One hopes that local leaders are making state leaders aware of this — letting them know that we see the low level of transit spending as a threat. Investing state dollars so heavily in cars and so little in transit places an unfair burden on people and places that rely on public transportation, while also sending the unfortunate signal that the state is only interested in fostering car-centric growth.