Monday, March 31, 2008

Charlotte's light-rail transit shows Atlanta leaders possibilites

Posted By on Mon, Mar 31, 2008 at 7:02 PM

At a symposium organized by the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce several months ago, the president of Charlotte, N.C.'s chamber said that his city, which is one-sixth the size of metro Atlanta but still a fierce competitor in attracting businesses and residents, enjoyed a distinct advantage over Georgia: Charlotte is more nimble, he said, and learns from the metro region's mistakes.

Our more-nimble competitor last week showcased one of the perks such an advantage allows and hosted members of the Transit Planning Board, a multi-agency effort that includes some of the bigger noodles in Georgia's transportation-planning alphabet soup — MARTA, GRTA, ARC and DOT. The centerpiece of the visit was LYNX, Charlotte's upstart light-rail line. The project began service earlier this year, has seen ridership numbers exceed initial estimates, and was brought to life partly by a funding strategy that allowed a region to levy a local option sales tax on itself. Transit advocates in metro Atlanta hope a similar version currently navigating its way through the General Assembly will jumpstart the region's lackluster and antiquated transportation situation. The resolution passed the House last week and now awaits tinkering in a conference committee.

The TPB recently unveiled Concept 3, its own multi-year vision for metro Atlanta's transportation future which also includes light-rail. To view the agency's plan, click here. Below are upcoming public meetings about the plan:

  • April 1, 2008 — Cobb Central Library 266 Roswell Street, Marietta, GA from 3:30 PM - 7:30 PM

  • April 17, 2008 — Education Room, Southern Regional Hospital, 11 Upper Riverdale, Road SW, Riverdale, GA from 4:30 PM - 7:00 PM

  • April 19, 2008 — Atlanta Planning Advisory Board, Atlanta City Hall, 55 Trinity Avenue, Atlanta, GA starting at 10:00 AM

  • April 29, 2008 — Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, 235 Andrew Young International Boulevard, Atlanta, GA from 3:30 PM - 7:00 PM

TPB Chairman Eldrin Bell and MARTA General Manager Bev Scott, who both attended the Charlotte visit, found out about the House's vote on Friday via BlackBerry. After the jump, view how they reacted to the news.

Eldrin Bell Bev Scott TPB Charlotte

(Photo courtesy of TPB)

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