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Michael Dobbins 

Prefers golf carts to trains for the Beltline

The Beltline, a 22-mile loop of transit and trails that would circle Atlanta, is a wildly popular proposal. Though it's still as much as two decades off, people talk about Beltline trains as if they're just around the corner, as in, "When the Beltline comes, I'll be able to go to ..."

Finding a prominent Atlantan to say something negative about the Beltline isn't easy. Finding a prominent Atlantan who says the city's transit needs would be better served by a trail for electric golf carts is harder still, but we found one.

Michael Dobbins is no kook, and he's not trying to turn Atlanta into a giant version of suburban golf-cart Mecca Peachtree City. He's the city's former planning commissioner and a professor at Georgia Tech's College of Architecture and City and Regional Planning.

Quite simply, it's not that Dobbins thinks golf carts on the Beltline would be a particularly good idea. He just thinks it's a less bad idea than trains.

His argument: Mass transit only works when it takes people to and from work faster and more affordably than cars. The Beltline, he likes to points out, doesn't actually go where the bulk of Atlanta's inner-city jobs are located, along the Peachtree Street corridor.

Why isn't anyone paying attention to Dobbins' act of civil disobedience? Dobbins thinks the successful marketing of the current Beltline proposal is to blame.

"The [Beltline] vision was sold with a careful marketing program that swept aside any contrary information," he quips. "It's a wonderful vision, a handful of Atlantans riding round-and-round the city with nowhere to stop."

Atlanta's 11 Least Influential People

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