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.

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