Mayor Bodker's Statement on Proposed MARTA Tax
Mayor Mike Bodker has released a statement regarding his position on an additional proposed MARTA T-SPLOST (Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax), and public transportation options that might be funded by the revenue raised. In two of the four proposed options, Johns Creek would see Arterial Bus Rapid Transit running along the same route that GRTA/Gwinnett Transit buses serve today. The Mayor cites a lack of evidence that the proposed options would provide any meaningful traffic congestion relief. Indeed, the buses that serve the route today do so mostly absent any significant ridership.
The proposed MARTA T-SPLOST would commit those shopping in Fulton County to the incremental sales tax for 40 years. In the end, the only difference we would see is that the buses running up-and-down 141 would be operated by MARTA instead of GRTA or Gwinnett Transit.
January 30, 2018
Mayor Bodker strongly believes that transit options play a critical role in addressing the growing traffic congestion challenge in North Fulton County, and in metro-Atlanta.
Exploring all options is a sensible approach and is the path we should take in order to best tackle our traffic congestion problems. While we understand the frustration level we all have with traffic, whatever investment is made in transit should deliver a measurable return on investment in the form of congestion relief.
As it relates to the different modes of transit that have recently been studied, the Mayor believes the only sensible choice is one that does not involve the investment in light or heavy rail. Those choices would require a higher density in population that is not desired by Johns Creek and a number of other cities in North Fulton.
As such, we shouldn’t commit to a long-term investment in heavy rail and/or Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and Arterial Rapid Transit (ART) without a more detailed and full understanding of its benefits and impact to traffic relief.
My reservations are grounded in the lack of data showing that BRT and ART will provide a commensurate return on investment in traffic congestion relief to warrant the billions of dollars of taxpayer investments contemplated in a 40-year sales tax increase. Without any ability to scale back the tax increase in the event we learn that the transit path we adopt turns out to be the wrong strategy, we would be faced with a costly mistake that is not easily corrected.
In addition to my main concern about a lack of a return on investment, we have yet to fully appreciate the impact autonomous vehicles may have on daily transportation patterns, or the fact that yet again Fulton County (DeKalb County and Clayton County) is asked to fund transit for metro Atlanta without any investment from other metro Atlanta residents and businesses.
Before any decision is made to move forward with any transportation option that requires another tax increase, we ask that this option demonstrate measurable congestion relief, respect the desire for low density in North Fulton, and provide the flexibility to adjust to changing technologies.
We applaud all efforts to tackle the traffic congestion problem and welcome innovative ideas. We also remain committed to working with our partners in metro-Atlanta to find a long-term, economical, and effective solution as quickly as possible.