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Atlanta will not become a world-class city without a viable public transit solution April 7, 2009

Posted by vsap in Blogroll, Uncategorized, US Politics.
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I have often complained, along with about a million of my closest friends, that Atlanta traffic is like Chicago with a transit strike every day. Also, I have complained often that the governor and lawmakers of Georgia have chosen not lead on the issue of viable light rail system to move people around in an orderly fashion. What we have is a system of “express” buses from Gwinnett, Clayton and Cobb Counties that do little to enhance the driving experience in metro Atlanta.

What about MARTA? Well, if you need to go from the airport to a hotel not too many blocks from a station, it works. If you’d like to get to the World Congress Center, Philips Arena or the Georgia Dome, it works pretty good for that. If you live in the city of Atlanta or just adjacent to it and can walk to your job, you might consider it an option. If you live beyond its reach, it’s not a viable option at all.

Think of the “L” going no further than one stop beyond the Chicago city limits in Oak Park on the west, to Blue Island on the south, and one stop in Evanston on the north.

You’re a New Yorker and can’t relate? Imagine you are in Manhattan and you can go no further than Brooklyn Borough Hall, Queens Plaza, 138th or 149th Sts. That’s right: you have to figure out how you will get to Yankee Stadium and Citi Park, not to mention the airports. That’s Atlanta’s answer to public transit, MARTA.

You do not become a world-class city in spite of yourself. Ted Turner, The Home Depot, and Coca-Cola can bring the horse to the water, but can’t make it drink. Georgia lawmakers, against the will of its people, have seen to it. So much richness and prosperity have arrived in Atlanta due to large corporations believing it to be the best place on earth for business. Yet, there is no will to help ourselves, as Georgians, to get out of this morass.

Does a meaningful transit system automatically cause traffic problems to dissolve? No. People still choose to drive in Chicago and New York for their own reasons everyday. I used to think it was a “southern thing”, you know, the “NASCAR nation” where the car is part of your red badge of courage for being a native who loves his individualism and control of the situation beyond what good sense dictates. But, it’s really an American thing. There will forever be traffic jams until the Jetsons-style low-altitude personal flight vehicle (LAPFV) arrives. Then the jams will be in the sky.

Until then, not much new can be added to the rhetoric of transportation issues in metro Atlanta. The chambers of commerce have said it. The captains of industry have said it. Those working for the captains of industry have cried out. All to no avail.

The only solution is to tip over the apple cart of incumbency in the 2010 election. Fresh eyes may see that some possible solutions are available and possible, and the driving public will support them, if given a chance.

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