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New Frontiers

May 21, 2014

 

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2010 certainly has been a long time since our friends down in Clayton County have seen a local bus.  Ask the family carrying three grocery carts full of groceries from the Riverdale Walmart across the long-stretched State Route 85 Monday. Since then, so much movement has gone on northward, the residents are starting to feel some type of way on if the county can prove to be relevant again.  Well people, there IS hope, and the power is in the people! (and the Clayton County Board of Commissioners…)

 

These past week has been tremendous for transit all over the metro, as MARTA decreased its max wait times to 10 minutes during peak hours, the Atlanta Streetcar is only a doctor’s check-up from operation, and Clayton County is firing up the conversation for reinstating transit to their infrastructure. As of yesterday, reps from the City of Atlanta Department of Public Works and the Atlanta Streetcar announced the PROPOSED (used lightly) fare structure and schedule for the start of revenue service.  Let’s break it down.

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So if the Atlanta City Council approved the PROPOSED fare structure on June 2nd, the fare structure above will go into place around eh…October-November-ish (remember, the first three months will be free). Transfers to MARTA or GRTA will be free, and the council will also decide on reverse transfers.  Now, compared to other streetcar systems, this is pretty fair.  I wouldn’t go off the immediate jump to purchase a monthly pass, though (unless I really wanted to marry the Edgewood Bar District). You can use Breeze Cards as you do on the other systems, as well as purchase them from Breeze vending machines. Also noted to point out, the PROPOSED revenue service plan will be Monday through Thursday from 6 AM-PM, Friday from 6 AM-AM, Saturday from 8:30 AM-1 AM, and Sunday from 9 AM-11 PM. 

Now for the nonbelievers who still think it’s pointless and a waste of money, please take a look around you.  Do you see any streetcar in operation, and are you living in an area of tremendous investment?  As of now, the Atlanta Streetcar will serve as a very key last-mile connectivity tool for pedestrians navigating through Downtown from other systems, as well as the catalyst for a bigger blueprint for an extended streetcar network Downtown, Midtown, and the rest of the intown neighborhoods. They have literally taken every demographic into consideration who would utilize it from downtown business people, college students, seniors, pub crawlers, as well as the tourists. I have stressed long enough that if you don’t like what goes on in your neighborhood, then you haven’t talked loud enough. I can’t explain myself anymore for this, so all those asking me the point of the streetcar, stop. It will be revolutionary. Just wait. 

 

On to the other elephant in the room, ClayCo. Clayton County has been working with a firm out of Tampa to gather public opinion on what they would like to see as far as transit in the now car-dependent nook of the Southern Crescent. Monday, the group has released their Transit Vision for up to 2040.  While it comes to some head nods, it also comes to some clouded conversations with a few of the commissioners. Some people just shouldn’t talk to everyone.  Let’s break this down.

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Shown above is a draft of the 2040 Long-Range vision for Clayton County.  The blue lines represent the local bus which would radiate from the East Point and College Park MARTA stations outward to as far south as Irondale (or the between Jonesboro and Lovejoy part of Tara Boulevard). The restoration of local bus service will be the goal of the 2016 plan.  2020 calls for the introduction of Flex Shuttle service for seniors, those with disabilities, and those in far-stretched subdivisions. 2030 will call for increased headways for the buses, and if the Board and the people decide by November that this is worth sticking the red line in above, a heavy rail line along the Norfolk-Southern line to Clayton State University will bless ClayCo’s presence by 2040. 

Like I said before, the conversation is still a little cloudy.  Most residents still don’t understand how the county lost C-Tran in the first place, and some commissioners are going out of the way to sweep it under the rug and blotch this opportunity by lying. Some locals are also weary that it will increase crime, litter, yada yada yada. Listen here. Make your OWN judgment.  Just know that the State legislation ONLY calls for Clayton to join MARTA through the 1-cent sales tax, and that will be the minimum if ClayCo ever wants to see rail. Property tax won’t have anything to do with funding transit. No one does that, and the residents wouldn’t even go for that. Not even Seattle believes it’s a good idea. You also can’t steal a TV and bring it back on a bus. This endeavor would be not only a very wise economic development opportunity for the county, but a building block for uniting all of the transit systems into one and for us as a region and move forward on how we look at more efficient mobility options.

 

To join in on both of these conversations, please direct yourselves to the following:

Email the Atlanta Streetcar Team at: atlantastreetcar@atlantaga.gov. Comments will be welcomed until May 30th!!!

Comment on the Clayton County Transit Initiative at: http://transit.claytoncountyga.gov/  

Or go to the meetings tomorrow at:

      • Thursday, May 22, 2014
        6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
        6:30 pm Presentation
        Frank Bailey Senior Center
        6213 Church Street
        Riverdale, GA 30274
    • Thursday, May 22, 2014
      6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
      6:30 pm Presentation
      Fountain of Life Christian Church
      3372 Anvil Block Road
      Ellenwood, GA 30294​
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