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FRED thinks he can do better than both MARTA and Charlie Sheen

March 2, 2011

It has been BUSY at the MARTA Rocks! headquarters. That’s MARTA’s computer hates her and won’t access the site, the Accidental Commuter says school’s being all school, and I’ve been out of town. But let’s get on with some newsiness!

Last week LEAD Atlanta held a transit panel starring Jim Durrett, chair of the MARTA board and the executive director of the Buckhead CID, Todd Long, the director of planning for GDOT, Larry Gellerstedt, President & CEO of Cousins, Dave Williams, VP of Transportation for the Metro Atlanta Chamber, and Ashley Robbins, President of Citizens for Progressive Transit. It was quite an interesting group of folks and a great discussion. Durrett was an excellent and entertaining moderator, whose best quote was, in a response to the stigma of the name MARTA, “We are willing to change our name to FRED.” Williams made the comment that if he was to make such a suggestion, we should at least come up with what FRED could stand for. I vote for: Friends Reaching Every Direction. Sure, it’s corny, but who can get angry with that? And since we’re reaching every direction, that means we need to get with some wicked expansion. It’s a win-win! And not a Charlie Sheen sort of win, either.

Todd Long got off on a tangent during the panel that really got underneath my skin. While replying to a question about funding for roads, he started talking about how GDOT’s funds for roads are hurting because they rely heavily on the gas tax, and as people are purchasing more fuel-efficient vehicles, we’re needing less gas and therefore less money is coming in. Really, buddy? You’re going to blame people being good stewards of the environment for you having less money for roads? Does anyone else have a problem with that?

Looks like the Georgia State Legislature will be coming to GDOT and the roads’ rescue. There are proposals down at the Gold Dome to raise the gas tax so that it rises with inflation.. Don’t ask me what that means, I couldn’t manage to make it through the article. It’s like roads are good and feed them more money! and my mind shuts off. The thinking bits just quit working.

I wish that GDOT and the legislature would get with the times. Census data shows that people want walkable communities. And while the ultra-conservatives are likening rail to communism, Florida is suing it’s Governor to demand their share of high speed rail funding. And seeing how our cars cost our communities $7,000 a year or more, isn’t transit something everyone can get behind?

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