(ATLANTA - Jan 26, 2011)
Today, the Atlanta Regional Commission’s (ARC) Regional Transit Committee (RTC) approved conceptual legislation that provides guidelines and principles for creating an umbrella governance structure for a metro-wide, coordinated transit system.
After several years of studying the Atlanta region’s transit needs and governance structures for other metropolitan operations, the RTC determined that a model similar to the Chicago Regional Transit Authority would work well in this region. “Committee members agreed that this model seemed like the best for creating a single entity that would have the authority and the ability to plan, finance, build, own, operate and maintain cross-jurisdictional transit infrastructure and service for our region,” said Atlanta Mayor, Kasim Reed, RTC chair.
The model legislation proposed by the Regional Transit Committee is consistent with the guiding principles issued by the Joint Legislative Transit Governance Study Commission, and is meant to be an example of how a statement of regional policy might be written into law in a way that meets those guidelines.
The committee’s model legislation recognizes MARTA as the backbone of the system, while allowing it to expand rail service outside Fulton and DeKalb counties in the same way it is currently able to provide bus service. The governance structure outlined in the conceptual legislation would embrace all transit systems in the Atlanta region, such as Cobb Community Transit and Gwinnett County Transit.
Additionally, local officials have repeatedly reaffirmed a set of guiding principles or policy statements for the constitution and operation of a regional transit governance system, including:
- Unified Decision-Making – the region needs a single entity that will be able to plan, finance, build, own, operate and maintain (or contract for) cross-jurisdictional transit infrastructure and service.
- Voting Structure – in order for an entity to have voting rights in the decision-making process in the region’s transit governance structure, that entity must contribute financially to the operation of the region’s transit system.
- Proportional Representation – in addition to being required to contribute to the operational expenses of the region’s transit systems in order to vote at the regional level, the weight of an entity’s vote should be proportional to the value of its contribution to the system.
The RTC’s conceptual transit governance legislation accomplishes all of these goals, without jeopardizing existing transit funding sources or requiring changes to home-rule provisions of the Georgia Constitution to prevent local governments from operating transit systems.
“This draft legislation is intended as a statement of regional policy, and as an example of how that policy could be written into law in a way that meets the stated guidelines put forth by the General Assembly, through the draft report of its Joint Legislative Transit Governance Study Commission,” said Mayor Reed. “The action by the RTC today is an important step forward and a sign of regional unity in our desire to create a truly world-class transit system for metro Atlanta.”
Later in the day, the ARC board voted unanimously on a resolution in support of the RTC’s passage of the conceptual regional transit governance legislation. ARC will work to assist the Regional Transit Committee in transmitting the legislative framework to the Joint Legislative Transit Governance Study Commission.