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“Hampton Mayor Selected to Represent District 10 at the Atlanta-Region Transit Link Authority Caucus”
HAMPTON, GEORGIA — August 27, 2018 4:00 p.m. — Earlier this morning, meetings were held across the metro area whereby Mayors voted and selected their district representatives to the Atlanta-Region Transit Link Authority Caucus. The Atlanta-region Transit Link Authority (The ATL) will be responsible for transit planning across 13 counties, providing a truly cohesive regional plan that offers people a seamless transportation experience across agencies like the city’s MARTA rapid transit rail and various local and commuter bus systems - and eventually, bikeshare, parking agencies and perhaps rental cars. Hampton Mayor Steve Hutchison was selected to represent the District 10 Mayors at the next level caucus of legislators, county chairs, and himself. This group will then select the District 10 representative to serve on The ATL Authority Board. District 10 includes Coweta County, Fayette County, and portions of Clayton and Henry County. The caucus of Legislators, County Chairs and respective Mayors of each district are to be scheduled by October. Mayor Hutchison will join the other mayors selected in their respective District Caucuses. According to Henry County Chair June Wood, “This is great for Henry County in that we now have this opportunity to have a seat at the table with such a highly prestigious group of leaders involved in this monumental impact to the quality of life for our citizens.”
The Atlanta-Region Transit Link Authority is a toolbox that gives local governments the ability to establish or expand public transit service in ways that best fit their communities. Expanding transit options will improve the quality of life for residents and ensure the region’s long-term economic competitiveness. The legislation, House Bill 930 as signed by Governor Nathan Deal in May, is complicated, running 77 pages long. According to the Atlanta Regional Commission, the Atlanta-region Transit Link Authority is charged with (1) developing a regional transit plan for a 13-county area -- Cherokee, Clayton, Coweta, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry, Paulding, and Rockdale counties; (2) coordinating existing and future transit service in the 13-county region, including services currently provided by MARTA, Xpress, CobbLinc, Gwinnett County Transit and the Cherokee Area Transit Service. The ATL could explore unified fare payment systems, improved routing and scheduling across jurisdictions, and efficiencies in purchasing, maintenance and operations. The Georgia Legislation creates several new options for transit funding in the Atlanta region: (1) Communities may seek voter approval to raise local sales taxes by up to 1 percent for up to 30 years to pay for construction and operations. Projects funded by these taxes must be included in the regional transit plan and approved by The ATL board. Additionally, a list of them must be available to the public – with estimated costs – prior to the vote; (2) The newly adopted state budget includes $100 million in bonds for transit that would not have been available without the legislation’s passage. The ATL can issue its own bonds, and can work with other state agencies to issue bonds.
The ATL will be overseen by a 16-member whose members will serve four-year terms. The legislation creates 10 districts within the 13-county region, drawn to incorporate major commuting corridors and encourage planning on a regional level rather than a local level. Click here to view a map of those districts. The board will consist of: (1) One citizen representative from each of those 10 districts, to be appointed by the state legislators, county commission chairs, and mayors who represent each district; (2) Two appointees by the Speaker of the House; (3) Two appointees by the Lieutenant Governor; (4) A chairperson appointed by the Governor; and (5) The Georgia DOT commissioner (non-voting). It’s important to note that no transit expansions can be mandated from the regional level. Member counties must “opt in” to any specific project or funding mechanism, and no local sales taxes can be raised without approval from residents via a referendum.
As the federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization for metro Atlanta, ARC will continue to be responsible for developing the region’s long-term transportation plan, including transit. The ATL is charged with developing short-range (six-year) and long-range (20-year) regional transit plans. ARC will work with The ATL on those plans, which will be incorporated into ARC’s comprehensive regional plan.