Making alternative transportation part of our life style is the best way to save the most money and natural resources.
By now, most Atlanta area residents will have heard the arguments for and against the Transportation Referendum of July 31st. Residents in metropolitan counties will be given the opportunity to tax themselves a penny to fund a list of projects designed to improve local transportation. Arguments in favor include:
GA 49th in transportation spending. Georgia legislatures and governors have steadfastly refused to fund even highways adequately – let alone public transportation – for decades. Georgia is the only state with no funding for its principal transit agency, MARTA.
There are few alternatives to the auto, the “preferred” mode of transport. Indeed, how else is one to get around? Transit coverage and frequency are inadequate. Atlanta’s competitors, Charlotte (and the state of North Carolina), Dallas, Houston, even Nashville, have already far outpaced Atlanta in building alternatives to sprawl and congestion.
Arguments against include the “no new taxes/government is evil” ideologies and Atlanta – the suburbs (you pick) get too much benefit. Other opponents argue that too much-not enough is going for highways – rail (you pick), or certain minority communities will be underserved. Nor will any of the projects go very far in relieving congestion.
How to decide? Save energy and save money. Congestion = time + money. Further, any time the auto can be left behind saves both energy and money. But leaving the auto behind requires alternatives – walking, biking, and public transport.
Walkable communities include both sidewalks with pedestrian amenities such as benches and lighting and “horizontal elevators,” transit options that whisk the pedestrian from one walkable place to another.
The Transportation Referendum will not supply all of these nor necessarily give every citizen what they may desire in improved mobility. It may not even lessen congestion significantly at first. And it cannot by itself make up for decades of underfunding and irresponsible leadership. But as a downpayment on the future of the region, a one per cent sales tax is the surest way to save money and resources.
For those who can vote, vote Yes at the bottom of your ballot.