Atlanta HOT Lanes: Opposition and Confusion

Georgians are already complaining about the High Occupancy Toll lanes instituted on I-85 throughout Gwinnett County, Georgia. People state that their commute has been made worse due to these lanes and I’m sure it has because no one wants to pay the toll, but that is the whole point, right? Well not really. These lanes are supposed to encourage more carpooling, but who really carpools unless you live near coworkers or schoolmates, and with Atlanta being the epitome of urban sprawl, this does not occur regularly. Many people are angry because the minimum amount of people in the car has been raised to 3 to not have to pay a fee, and I also feel as thought this is unfair because I commute with my fiancee a number of times each week and we would utilize the HOV lane. Now that 3 people are required, I will have to pay the toll, but that is the point of this lane. It generates revenue, and if you really need to get to work on time, you will pay the 50-60 cents to get through the traffic faster. The fact is that the city of Atlanta is trying to implement something that will only work if there is adequate public transit, and if you know anything about Atlanta, there is absolutely NO adequate transit. With a metropolitan population of over 5 million people…2 interstates, 2 MARTA lines and a handful of buses is far from adequate, let alone efficient. The simple fact is that many Georgians have no clue what real public transit looks like. How would your commute change if you could jump on a commuter train in Gainesville and arrive in the city 30 minutes later? Or how about jumping on a streetcar in Vinings and arrive in Buckhead 20 minutes later? These concepts sound so simple, yet Governor Perdue did nothing for public transit in his 8 year reign over Georgia, and little else is being currently done by governor Nathan Deal. Yes, Georgians in the 28 county metro area will be voting on a 1% sales tax in the 2012 fall elections, but in all honesty, I don’t believe this will pass due to the fact that the overall transit problem in Atlanta is completely overwhelming. I have received comments that call me stupid and an idiot for calling for more tolls, but this is the only way the government can pay for an adequate transit system. When TARP funds were issued by the fed a few years ago, governor Perdue elected to not accept any funds for public transit, once again putting us behind the 8 ball. These funds were ripe for the taking and could have been used to implement new plans for extensive transportation development in the metro area. Atlantans continue to complain about their long commutes and a lack of transit, but anytime a toll is extended or added in the city, people begin to cry about their rights as citizens to not have to pay anything for the roads we use. Instead of devoting all of our time and money trying to kick the undocumented immigrants out of Atlanta, why don’t we turn our efforts to something productive such as expanding the development of this city with an efficient and state of the art transit system. I’m not talking about “road expansion”, which we actually really do need and is already occurring. I would like to see street level trains throughout the city, a more efficient bus system, commuter rail flowing from the suburbs into the city center, drastically expanding MARTA by creating a loop mimicking I-285, and the completely crazy idea of creating an additional perimeter outside of I-285. Now for anyone who knows anything about transit systems, the items I am proposing would cost billions of dollars and would take many years to develop into working pieces, but this simple fact does not mean that we should sit around and do absolutely nothing, exactly what the state of Georgia has been doing for the past 2 years. If you have any intelligent or intellectual ideas please share them with me as they are greatly appreciated.


iPhone 5 or iPhone 4S: Who Cares — We Want It!

There is major speculation regarding the new iPhone/iPhones being released tomorrow, so here are some general tidbits gathered across the internet for your viewing pleasure.

— The phone will be called the iPhone 5 or iPhone 4S.

— It likely will cost $200 with a 2-year wireless service contract from AT&T or Verizon.

— The iPhone may come to Sprint, too. (But not T-Mobile, as Mark Milian reports).

— It will be “skinnier, shorter and wider” than before, according to Gizmodo, which is basing these assumptions on supposed leaked cases for the phone and on “informed renderings.”

— PC World (irony noted) expects the iPad’s faster processor to squeeze its way into the iPhone.

— The phone will have a “teardrop” back, meaning it’s fatter at the top than the bottom, according to the blog This is My Next. The iPhone 4 is flat on both sides.

— It may have a “world mode,” meaning it could transition onto other cell networks easily.

— It will have an upgraded, 8-megapixel rear camera.

— It may employ new voice-recognition features, says Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster. His evidence? That e-mail Apple sent to journalists: “Let’s talk iPhone.” Voice-recognition. Get it?

— It’s possible Apple will unveil not one — but TWO iPhones.

— If so, the second likely will be cheaper and will have less storage capacity. Some bloggers have taken to calling it the iCloud Phone, because it could tie in with Apple’s new cloud-computing services. (Side note: Al Gore, an Apple board member, gave some credence to the second-iPhoners when he mentioned “the new iPhonescoming out next month” during a speech in South Africa).

— Based on Apple’s past iPhone release patterns, the phone (or phones) will likely go on sale later this month (most bloggers predict mid-October).

To read the entire article from CNN CLICK HERE

Atlanta: Finally Getting Smart with HOT Lanes

It blows my mind that it has taken this long for Atlanta to implement High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes on I-85 in Gwinnett County. Many people have no idea this is happening, but will soon realize that if you are leaving or entering the city at peak times on I-85, you can jump into this toll lane and zoom through traffic effortlessly. Places such as Sweden, the U.K., China and many others have implemented these types of tolls for decades now with great success. Not only do these countries have HOT lanes, but they actually toll you for entering a certain part of the city. These fees can be quite high, such as $16 to enter the city center in London at 7am.

This type of toll would be hard to push in the Atlanta area but it is completely needed. Imagine getting on I-285 and paying $2.00 each time, or once you hit the city limit of Atlanta, you are charged $5 instantly. Of course there would be breaks for emergency vehicles, cabs (there are no cabs in Atlanta by the way), and low-emission vehicles. A major benefit of this is that most of the revenues in these countries go directly toward public transport costs and development. Not only would this drastically decrease congestion, but it would also cut emissions and also bring in a hefty amount of revenue considering the major upfront cost of these projects. People may call me crazy, but this is the only way congestion can be tackled in the metro Atlanta area in the next 5 years…not 30 years.

To read more about the new HOT lanes in Atlanta CLICK HERE

How much home can I afford?

This is an extremely important factor when planning to buy a home. Many aspects are taken into consideration by lenders to come to an amount that will be given to you. The major factors are income, credit, debt and assets. You can have a lot of income but no credit and get turned down by many lenders. This lack of credit can mean many things. If most of your money is tied up in a business or you only have business credit cards, or you have only used cash for your purchases to this point in your life. Your credit is a lending lifeline and without it, you are basically out of luck. If you have great credit but only a little income, you will have to look for a very affordable home because the bank will not lend you a lot considering your income is low. A major problem in the U.S. today is student debt. You can have a great job and good credit, but if you have a major amount of student debt, some lenders will not get near you. Assets can also be a drain on how much you can afford. If you have multiple cars or properties, a bank can look at that negatively. I don’t mean to scare you, but this is why it is extremely important to have a good and knowledgeable lender who can help you figure out a comfortable mortgage amount that also suits your living needs. Check out this calculator from CNN Money to see how much you can afford, but remember to speak with a professional lender first. They will meet with you for free and discuss your needs or you may contact me directly for more information.

Mortgage Amount Calculator 

Cary Daniel Blumenfeld

Realtor (R)

Harry Norman, Realtors