Transportation

Georgia Senate Passes Transit Expansion Bill

The bill would ultimately allow 13 counties to ask for voter approval for sales tax funding, while other pieces of legislation would pave the way for a more streamlined regional transit system.

by David Wickert, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution / March 1, 2018
An underground train station in Atlanta, GA. Shutterstock

(TNS) – The Georgia Senate Wednesday approved legislation that could encourage mass transit expansions across the Atlanta region.

Senate Bill 386 would allow 13 local counties to raise hundreds of millions of dollars in sales taxes devoted to public transportation, with voter approval. It also would create a new board to oversee transit planning and construction in the region.

The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 51 to 4 The House of Representatives also passed its own transit legislationHouse Bill 930 – today.

The legislation comes as Fulton and Gwinnett counties are preparing to ask voters to approve sales taxes to expand transit. Cobb County also is studying its transit options, with an eye toward a future referendum.

Both transit bills would authorize such county votes - but they would also require the counties to seek approval of their project lists from the new regional board. The idea is to coordinate projects across county lines, create a seamless regional transit system and – over time – consolidate the alphabet soup of agencies that provide local transit service.

Senators also approved related legislation, Senate Bill 460, which would allow MARTA to contract with governments outside its current service area to provide transit services.

SB 460 also would require MARTA to adopt a new “ATL” transit system logo on its trains and buses by 2023. Its sponsor, Sen. Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta, wants to rebrand transit systems across the region as part of efforts to create a seamless system.

The bill passed by a vote of 51 to 2.

©2018 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Atlanta, Ga.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.