Support The Red Line to North Fulton – It’s About Time
MARTA has proposed the largest expansion in its history. It would extend the Red Line to Windward Pkwy while also funding other rail and bus routes around the metro area. MARTA is healthier than ever and has successfully increased reliability, safety, train frequency, ridership and revenue since CEO Keith Parker took over in 2012. However, all those successes cannot fund a major expansion.
For this to happen, the state must pass legislation that would allow the necessary voting and funding flexibilities. Both are legitimate possibilities in this year’s legislative session. Then, we would need to vote to add a half penny to the Fulton County sales tax.
Even though the expansion plans, legislative possibilities and enhanced MARTA are encouraging; many North Fulton leaders are actively opposing rail expansion in favor of more roads and possibly increased bus service. They say that rail doesn’t benefit everyone and costs too much to justify. While not everyone rides MARTA, it benefits us all by reducing road trips, providing options to those who cannot drive for either affordability or health reasons, and by reducing pollution. We cannot sustain a healthy, diverse community in North Fulton by catering only to the middle and upper class.
This position defies the results of a statistically significant, independent poll conducted in June 2014 by Kennesaw State University that showed 76% of residents approve or strongly approve of MARTA expansion up the 400 corridor. When asked how it should be built, 77% said either Light or Heavy Rail while only 11% responded with Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). The key issue is connecting into the existing system. The requirement of a transfer at North Springs with BRT would discourage many potential riders and sabotage the new system from the start.
Failing to expand with rail would make the cities of North Fulton less competitive in attracting major economic development opportunities. Employers and employees want access to transit. Alpharetta was not a candidate for the Mercedes Benz USA relocation partly because it was not near MARTA rail. State Farm, NCR and many other companies have made their location decisions based on access to rail. This is not a trend. It is the new norm.
So, who is making the decisions? Leaders such as the John’s Creek City Council, Mayor Belle Isle of Alpharetta and Senator John Albers believe that the people of North Fulton have spoken and that we are solidly against rail.
The facts tell another story. Our civic leaders are making decisions based on their own assumptions and national political persuasions rather than truly listening to those who live and work in their districts and cities. When you are in an echo chamber, it can be very hard to hear.
But we will be heard. We want rail transit. Supporting an unproven BRT solution because it’s cheaper is a fool’s errand. Forcing a bus to train connection at North Springs sabotages ridership. We can already do that and we’ve already given dedicated bus lanes to cars once already. We need a seamless system not a disjointed, dysfunctional, temporary one. BRT is the wrong choice.
We support MARTA Rail in North Fulton and we would support an extra half penny sales tax to build it.
It’s About Time We Invest in Mobility Options not just more lanes!
It’s About Time for the Red Line in North Fulton!
- State Senator
- State Senator
- Roswell Mayor and Council
- Johns Creek Mayor and Council
- Alpharetta Mayor and Council
- Milton Mayor and Council
- Sandy Springs Mayor and Council
- Mountain Park Mayor and Council
- State Representative
- John Eaves
- Fulton County Board of Commissioners
If you don’t support MARTA Rail expansion, you’re on the wrong side of the tracks!
Why is it that we can afford $2.4 billion to add ‘express’ lanes up GA 400 but we can’t make a similar investment in transit? If adding lanes is an attempt to cure congestion, how are those extra lanes that were finished in 2007 looking right about now?
We need options not express lanes. Extending the rail line will give us those options.
Extending the Red Line to Windward Parkway will :
- Provide the option that commuters desperately need.
- Stimulate additional economic development similar to that seen around existing MARTA stations (State Farm, Mercedes Benz, NCR…)
- Be consistent with what residents and employees in North Fulton want to see, namely rail transit to Windward Parkway
- Increase Crime – Evidence of significant increases in crime are anecdotal at best and according to a study done on the last MARTA expansion, just plain unfounded.
- Ruin our Schools – There is no credible evidence that transit impacts school quality.
- Lower our Property Values – If anything, it will increase property values for the vast majority of properties.
A lot has been said about BRT as an option and it should be considered, just not for the north-south line. It should be considered to provide east-west service from key train stations. BRT is an excellent option when you are building a system from scratch but it will not serve as an effective extension of the Red Line for several reasons:
- Modal Shift – Switching from bus to train at North Springs would be a ridership killer for riders of choice and would handicap the system from the start.
- Speed – BRT is slower than Rail and this stretch is exactly where you need speed in the system due to the long stretches between stations.
- Permanence – We used to have a quasi-BRT system in North Fulton and ridership has always been low. Now, those lanes are car lanes during rush hour.
- Track Record – There are only 5 true BRT systems in the U.S. and only one reaches silver (gold is the best) on the BRT Standard rating system. Do we really think we will build a world class bus system in a region that has stigmatized bus service for decades when no other North American city has been able to achieve that standard?
We need to stop kidding ourselves. North Fulton needs rail transit. It is the best option even if it is the most expensive option.
I urge you to hop over to the right side of the tracks and support MARTA rail expansion into North Fulton.
Red Line… It’s About Time!
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