The Little County That Did
It was the only exciting visual from Midterm Elections this year that wasn’t red.
74% of the county down south voted to approve the one-cent sales tax to join MARTA, and we couldn’t have been happier. But let’s not take this win easily. There’s still plenty of work to be done to transform ClayCo from the three bus routes that will now travel south of the Airport come March 2015 to the transit paradise that we enjoy northward. (Ok, so maybe not a paradise, but follow me.)
First off, there needs to be a focus on cross-county connections. MARTA has a knack for emptying everyone into a train station, hence why many intown buses ride empty. It’s not bad, but it brings a yearn for always wanting to take the train for every trip. This ain’t NYC, so let’s not think that everyone in ClayCo goes to Atlanta for groceries. For those who fortunately have trips that begin and end in Clayton, it would make it helpful to know where people want to go in Clayton County instead of defaulting to sending everyone to the train. The proposed 198 bus along State Route 138 from West Fayetteville Road to Stockbridge Village Shopping Center is a great example. It doesn’t pass through a train station but focuses on the artery itself. This is a great technique to attract drivers to try transit if they start seeing more buses along this route.
Second, introduce the idea of transit-oriented development, or TOD. This is a given, since MARTA is already exploring that intown. But now that there’s new territory, this will bring a new conversation to people who are now considering the move back into ClayCo. Would a mixed-use development with residential apartments and condos over coffee shops, grocers and department stores sound great in downtown Jonesboro or around Clayton State? This blogger thinks so.
Third, tell your government friends in Gwinnett County (or if you’re feeling really optimistic, Cobb). ClayCo signing on with MARTA can be the greatest transit success story that Metro Atlanta can tell other places. We are always in the news for something dumb, and this new endeavor can be a change to show that this metro can be progressive and think outside the box. But if the other counties don’t see how and why this dog quenched his thirst, they won’t want to drink from the same stream. I can see Gwinnett County being the next to scrap GCT and just calling it MARTA. They’ve got the money, the transit-dependent constituency, and the business community. They just need the commissioner support. Cobb is a whole pedestrian bridge away from even thinking about joining the rest of the world.
So, congrats to ClayCo, and welcome to the family. See you in March.
To see a map and list of the proposed bus routes to Clayton County, click here —>Clayton-County-MARTA-Map