I am working tirelessly with my colleagues to enact innovative solutions to ease the burden of traffic and improve public safety. Several groups over many years have studied this issue. The facts locally and around the country have clearly demonstrated the expansion of rail does not make sense. Expanding rail lines is not operationally, financially or logistically feasible. However, adding managed lanes to GA400 first, and then embracing ride sharing solutions and exploring potential bus routes can provide a reasonable solution at a fraction of the cost, time and impact. We cannot allow another hundred-million-dollar plus disaster like the Atlanta Street Car to occur anywhere in Georgia. Let’s listen, be smart and get something done that will make a meaningful impact in the lives of our families.
For decades, many people have said there is no single answer or “silver bullet” to solve our traffic congestion. This statement may have been true at the time, but innovation is changing the game and a comprehensive solution is now within reach. Autonomous driving vehicles are now a reality and will provide the answers we are seeking. Several experts assert that kids born today will never learn how to drive a car. Most of the major automakers have fleets of autonomous cars launching in the next 1-3 years. This is difficult to fathom for some of us, but the reality is true and we need to leverage technology and innovation to solve our 21st century challenges.
I represent all six cities in North Fulton County and speak to residents every day. Citizens are smart and understand the reality of the situation. They have paid the MARTA tax for over 45 years and received little-to-no benefit. Now is the time and opportunity for MARTA to provide solutions with their existing budget and tax base. Some have argued for a 50 percent tax increase for MARTA, which is not fiscally conservative. Additionally, it is not right to burden our families and businesses with an unjustifiable increase. We need to see a return on investment with the current one percent sales tax paid for almost half of a century. Let’s all agree to NO NEW TAXES and look for efficiencies to reduce taxes. I am proud of my North Fulton Mayors and Councilmembers for working together with me. Their leadership and support are critical to any decisions moving forward and we are very much aligned.
I also want to see substantial improvements to the current MARTA system addressing major concerns in the last year with outages, customer service, safety, timeliness and ridership. Ridership has declined over the past 10 years and we need to understand the reasoning and return on investment. As John Adams said, “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”
I am committed to working with our North Fulton cities, Fulton County and our state agencies to provide innovative and practical solutions based on the basic principal of improving commute times and public safety.