In 2016, Atlanta voters overwhelmingly approved an additional half penny sales tax to fund More MARTA, an ambitious forty year program to significantly expand mass transit’s coverage of the city.
Today, Council President Doug Shipman and Councilmembers Marci Overstreet and Amir Farokhi held a press conference requesting an audit of the funds generated to help explain what results MARTA has produced.
The impetus, of course, is that MARTA has yet to break ground on a single one of the ever dwindling number of capital projects proposed. Not one.
Clearly things have gone off the rails.
Atlantans deserve answers from MARTA on how their taxes have been spent and hopefully the audit will help increase not only transparency but also efficiency. Large organiztions make mistakes and having an outside invested observer rarely hurts.
At the same time, while MARTA’s practices are being examined, Mayor Andre Dickens and City Council must examine their own practices. And we’re not talking about Renew Atlanta and T-SPLOST (although there needs to be some serious accounting there as well). We’re talking about land use.
Who, what, when, where, why, and how we use our land for development plays as crucial a role in our transportation patterns as the transportation system itself. Our city’s continued opposition to reasonable density, mixed uses, and our devotion to parking undermine the very projects council is questioning MARTA for failing to deliver.
Some day in the hopefully near future, the Summerhill BRT, long overdue and overbudget, will drop off its first passengers. Unfortunately in front of the Summerhill Publix parking lot that the city required since they assume everyone will drive and needs a parking space.
This is not a sustainable path forward.
Hopefully today set in motion not a contentious fight between MARTA and the City of Atlanta but a path of self reflection towards a less car dependent city that benefits everyone.